Catherine Booth-Clibborn (Katie Booth) (18 September 1858 – 9 May 1955) was an English Salvationist and evangelist. She was the oldest daughter of William and Catherine Booth. She was also known as "la Maréchale".
Born in Gateshead, where her father was serving as a minister, during her childhood Katie Booth was particularly close to William Booth's secretary, George Scott Railton, who lived with the Booth family for ten years and acted as her spiritual mentor. Saved by the age of thirteen, she began preaching at the age of fifteen and shared the platform with her father at the East London Christian Mission's annual conference in 1876.
Salvation Army officer
As an adult Katie Booth brought The Salvation Army to France in March 1881. A captain, she led two lieutenants (one of whom was Florence Soper, who later married Katie's brother Bramwell Booth) in preaching the Gospel in Paris, wearing sandwichboards when the police forbid them to hand out leaflets. They were not well received. Their street-corner sermons were often interrupted by people pelting them with mud and stones. After repeated attempts by men on the roads to strangle them by their bonnet strings, they began pinning the strings on rather than sewing them. They lived in rented apartments where prostitutes lived in poor conditions. Progress was slow. Opposition was fierce, and those who were converted were given a rough time, sometimes being fired from their jobs. The newspaper reports in France were nearly unanimously critical.
Eventually, Captain Booth moved on to Switzerland, where the opposition was even fiercer. The authorities refused to allow her to rent halls in which to preach, and she was arrested, tried, acquitted, and subsequently deported from Switzerland for conducting an open-air meeting in a forest outside Neuchâtel.
Katie Booth married Arthur Clibborn at the age of 28 on 18 February 1887. It was a well-attended event and subject of interest to the press, which reported that at least 6,000 people were in attendance. On marriage, Arthur and Kate changed their surname by deed poll to Booth-Clibborn at the insistence of General Booth. They had ten children, including the Pentecostal preacher William Booth-Clibborn. Following the birth of their tenth child the Booth-Clibborns resigned from The Salvation Army in January 1902, unhappy at the restrictive nature of the Army's military style of government. At her husband's wish, Katie and the children travelled with him to the cult leader John Alexander Dowie's Zion City, a township about 40 miles north of Chicago. Katie Booth-Clibborn did not believe Dowie's grandiose claims — in 1901 he declared himself the prophet Elijah the Restorer, and in 1904 the first apostle of Jesus Christ — and was offended by his criticism of her father even though her resignation had made her an outcast from both her family and the Army. For the rest of her life she had almost no contact with her father or with those siblings who remained in The Salvation Army.
After becoming Pentecostals in 1906 the Booth-Clibborns together continued preaching and spreading the Gospel as travelling evangelists in Europe, the United States, and Australia for the rest of their lives.
On her death from double pneumonia in 1955 Katie Booth-Clibborn was buried in Highgate Cemetery. Her earlier falling out with her father William Booth and the other Salvationist members of the family prevented her from being buried near her parents and deceased siblings in Abney Park Cemetery.
- L. E. Lauer, ‘Clibborn, Catherine Booth- (1858–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 accessed 26 May 2010
- "Figures marquantes de l'Armée du Salut en France : Armée du Salut organisation humanitaire en France". www.armeedusalut.fr. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
- Catherine Booth-Clibborn on The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre website
- News from the Past 1805-1887: The Autobiography of the Nineteenth Century. Edited and compiled by Yvonne Ffrench. New York: Viking Press.
- The Booth-Clibborns on the Pentecostal Pacifism website
- Catherine Booth-Clibborn on the Find-A-Grave website
Scott, C. The Heavenly Witch. The Story of the Maréchale (1981) Hamish Hamilton, London. 260 pp.