With God on Their Side: William Booth, The Salvation Army and Skeleton Army Riots

By James Gardner

Fresh research sheds light on the violent opposition faced by the Salvation Army in the late nineteenth century.

ISBN: 9780718895914


The Salvation Army is nowadays viewed with fondness, but William Booth’s evangelical crusade of the 1880s and early 1890s sparked violent riots led by an opposition group, the Skeleton Army. These riots caused destruction to property, injury to many people and, on occasion, loss of life. Spreading across the South and West of England, the Skeleton Army’s aim was to eject Salvationists from their towns. Rather than facing repercussions themselves, however, it was often the peaceful parading Salvationists who were imprisoned.

In With God on Their Side, James Gardner follows the spread of violence in the context of the popular conservatism of late-Victorian England, with close study of particular towns creating a rich tapestry of historical narrative that will be of interest to scholars and enthusiasts alike. The motives and actions of both groups are considered, along with the subsequent shift in the Salvation Army’s focus towards social welfare. It is this shift that enabled the organisation to grow into the treasured charity we know today, and helped transform William Booth from one of the most vilified men of the nineteenth century into its saint.

Additional information

Dimensions254 × 156 mm

Hardback  |  Paperback

Trade InformationLPOD

About the Author

James Gardner is a local historian, retired teacher and social worker. He gives regular talks to history and general interest groups along the South coast and has previously written books on the history of the Sussex Lunatic Asylum (formerly St Francis Hospital, Haywards Heath), the Brighton Workhouses, the first two British Railway murders and a biography of the late Johnny Haynes, the ex-England football captain.