William Booth was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General (1878–1912). The Christian movement with a quasi-military structure and government founded in 1865 has spread from London, England, to many parts of the world and is known for being one of the largest distributors of humanitarian aid.
G S Railton, the first Commissioner to General Booth, wrote: "William Booth was born in Nottingham, England, on April 10, 1829, and was left, at thirteen, the only son of a widowed and impoverished mother. His father had been one of those builders of houses who so rapidly rose in those days to wealth, but who, largely employing borrowed capital, often found themselves in any time of general scarcity reduced to poverty." 
Of his early circumstances William Booth wrote of his parents:
My father's fortunes appear to have begun to wane soon after his marriage. At that time he would have passed, I suppose, for a rich man, according to the estimate of riches in those days. But bad times came, and very bad times they were, such as we know little about, despite all the grumbling of this modern era. Nottingham, where the family was then located, suffered heavily, a large proportion of its poorer classes being reduced to the verge of starvation. My father, who had invested the entire savings of his lifetime in small house property, was seriously affected by these calamitous circumstances; in fact, he was ruined.
The brave way in which my mother stood by his side during that dark and sorrowful season is indelibly written on my memory. She shared his every anxiety, advised him in all his business perplexities, and upheld his spirit as crash followed crash, and one piece of property after another went overboard. Years of heavy affliction followed, during which she was his tender, untiring nurse, comforting and upholding his spirit unto death; and then she stood out all alone to fight the battles of his children amidst the wreck of his fortunes.
It is said that, not being able to afford William's school fees, that his father then apprenticed William to a pawnbroker in 1842. In September of that same year, his father died. William was 13 years old.
It was during his apprenticeship that William was converted to Methodism, and he subsequently became a lay preacher, having dedicated himself to reading extensively and training himself in speaking and writing.
Marriage - "England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D3W-7BZ : 13 December 2014), William Booth, 1855; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing 1855, quarter 2, vol. 1D, p. 575, Lambeth, London, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.
Railton, George Scott, The Authoritative Life of General William Booth.  The Project Gutenberg EBook, Release Date: November 4, 2004 [EBook #13958]. Originally published 1912, By George H. Doran Company
1841 England Census - Class: HO107; Piece: 867; Book: 7; Civil Parish: Snenton; County: Nottinghamshire; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 39; Page: 28; Line: 1; GSU roll: 438909; Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010. Name: William Booth; Age: 12; Estimated birth year: abt 1829; Gender: Male; Where born: Nottinghamshire, England; Civil Parish: Snenton; Hundred: Thurgarton (Southwell Division); County/Island: Nottinghamshire; Country: England
Record of Obituary publication: Ancestry.com. Web: Obituary Daily Times Index, 1995-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: The Obituary Daily Times. The Obituary Daily Times. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~obituary. Record Summary - Name: William Booth; Age at Death: 83; Birth Date: Abt 1829; Death Date: abt 1912; Death Place: London ENG; Publication or Record Date: 21 Aug 1912; Publication or Record Place: United States. 
Obituary - Ancestry.com. Web: Grant County, Indiana, Marion Public Library Death Index, 1812-2015 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Genealogy Database. Marion Public Library. http://www.marion.lib.in.us/request-genealogy-records-2/: accessed 5 October 2015. Record summary - Name: William Booth [General Booth] ; Birth Date: 10 Apr 1829; Death Date: 20 Aug 1912; Publication Date: 23 Aug 1912; Publication Place: Grant, Indiana, USA; Publication Title: Swayzee Press; Notes: Obituaries compiled by Paul Haley; Record Type: Obituary
Biographies of Great Christians  - ActsAmerica.org : A ministry of New Covenant Outreach, Inc