When William was thirteen the bank called in the mortgage on their home and that was the end of his school days – he had to start work, his father apprenticed him to a pawn-broker, hoping that he would in time make a lot of money. This occupation brought William face to face with many of the poor of Nottingham.
Less than a year later, in 1842, William’s father died, making a death bed conversion. It was after this that William began to take an interest in religion; moving to a Methodist Chapel from the local Church of England. At fourteen he went with two friends to special meetings at a Wesleyan church. William wrote that he was so impacted by what he heard that, had it not been for his friends, he would probably have given his life to the Lord that night. He wanted to be saved because he was unhappy. He always believed that God existed.
In the workplace William was quick, thorough, energetic, orderly and trustworthy and he wanted to succeed. When he was fifteen his mother had to move from their house and opened a small shop in Goose Gate to try to earn enough to keep the family. William decided he wanted to live right rather than live wrong and the poverty around him deeply impacted him; particularly the sight of children crying in the streets from hunger...
So William continued working. Shortly afterwards his six-year apprenticeship ended and he was glad to leave and put those humiliating years behind him.
From my biography of William Booth on this website.