Railton, George Scott

A key figure in the formative years of the Salvation Army, he was born in Arbroath, on 6 July 1849. the son of a WM minister, Lancelot Railton (1812- 1864; e.m. 1838) who had served as a WM missionary in Antigua. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, where he was converted in February 1860. Orphaned at 15, he met William Booth in London and became his assistant. He wrote a biography of Booth (1913). From 1880 he was engaged in mission work, which took him to America and many other parts of the world. He was the first Salvation Officer to hold the rank of Commissioner. His unrelenting labours led to his collapse and death in Cologne on 19 July 1913, while returning from a visit to Switzerland. He was buried next to General Booth in Abney Park cemetery.

His son, David Railton (1884-1955) inherited his concern for the poor. Ordained into the Anglican priesthood in 1908, he won the MC for his services as an army chaplain in World War I. The sight of the simple grave of an unknown soldier at Armentières gave him the idea that led to the Cenotaph in Whitehall. He was accidentally killed at Fort William while travelling by train in 1955. His daughter, Dame Ruth Railton (1915-2001), founded the National Youth Orchestra.

An older brother of George Scott Railton, Lancelot Railton junior, was born in Antigua on 5 August 1843, entered the WM ministry in 1864 and died at Keynsham on 1 May 1907.

  • Methodist Recorder, 9 May 1907
  • B. Watson, Soldier Saint: George Scott Railton, William Booth's first lieutenant (1970)
  • Oxford DNB