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George Scott Railton was born on 6 July 1849 in the manse of St. John’s Methodist Church at Arbroath in Scotland, to Methodist missionaries Lancelot Railton and his wife, Margaret Scott. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School in Leeds, an institution that provided education for the sons of itinerant ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Railton’s parents died on 8 November 1864 at Peel, Isle of Man.
His older brother, the Rev. Launcelot Railton, found him work in London with a shipping company, but not to his liking Railton went to Morocco in 1869 as a Christian missionary. this being unsuccessful George found himself stranded in Morocco, having to work his passage back to Britain as a steward. In 1870 he began working in Stockton-on-Tees for an uncle who owned a shipping business but preached the Gospel whenever he could. That same year William Booth went to Matlock to recuperate and met Rev. Launcelot Railton, who told Booth about his younger brother’s attempt to convert the Moroccans, adding that George was just the sort of person Booth’s Christian Mission needed.
Two years later, Booth received a letter from George, who read a copy of The Christian Mission‘s second report, ‘How to Reach the Masses with the Gospel’, and was so inspired by it that he volunteered for the cause. That same year Railton traveled to London starting his work for The Christian Mission, (renamed The Salvation Army in 1878), and for some years he lived in the Booth household as William Booth’s secretary. He became the acting editor of ‘The Christian Mission Magazine’ and in September 1873 was appointed General Secretary to The Christian Mission.
Booth’s son Bramwell Booth became his father’s secretary in 1880 and Railton since his youth desired to be a missionary; persuaded Booth to send him to New York to start the Army’s work. Since there weren’t many male officers, Railton took Captain Emma Westbrook and six other young women for the work on the voyage to the United States. With the hopes of training them on the way.
On 10 March 1880 Railton arrived at Castle Garden, New York with his seven ‘Hallelujah Lassies’ and started preaching to New Yorkers and joined the Shirley family in Philadelphia who’d already begun work there. He also began the work in Newark, New Jersey, leaving two young women in charge there, while he set off for St. Louis, Missouri to begin preaching there, which proved unsuccessful. Meanwhile, in New York, the work went so well that by May there were sixteen officers, forty cadets, and four hundred and twelve soldiers. By the end of 1880 one thousand five hundred had been converted.
Today there is no major city in America without that familiar red and white logo of the Salvation Army. The good it has done and is still doing far exceeded Railton’s vision.
- Railton on the Salvation Army International Heritage Centre website.
- Elizabeth Baigent, ‘Railton, David (1884–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005
- “Railton’s biography on SA Collectables”. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
- Archives of Empire: From the East India Company to the Suez Canal By Mia Carter and Barbara Harlow Published by Duke University Press, (2003) pg 361 ISBN 0-8223-3189-6.
- “USA Central Territory website”. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
Wikipedia.org. Retrieved 09 March 2020.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1748 – John Newton, a sailor on a slave ship, is converted to Christianity during a huge storm at sea. He eventually becomes an Anglican clergyman, the author of the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” and a zealous abolitionist. “That 10th of March is a day much to be remembered by me, and I have never allowed it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748. For on that day the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.”
1858 – Nathaniel Taylor, a prominent New England theologian who had modified the idea of freedom of will as taught by Jonathan Edwards to make it come more into line with experience; died in New Haven, Connecticut. His New Haven church had experienced great growth and revival.
1897 – Guido Verbeck who for ten years worked patiently at Nagasaki, building trust, teaching English (with the New Testament and the United States Constitution as his texts), and mastering the Japanese language; died in Tokyo. When his students became leaders of a new Japanese government, they invited Verbeck to Tokyo where his advice, language skills, and Western contacts proved so invaluable to Japan that the Japanese awarded him the Third Order of the Rising Sun.
1977 – Revival breaks out at Duranmin in Papua, New Guinea, while Diyos, principal of the Sepik Baptist Bible College, addresses a small assembly. Fifty listeners speak in tongues.