Salvation Army personal papers collections: Commissioner George Scott Railton and family

Scope and Content

These are the personal papers of Commissioner George Scott Railton, 1882-1984.

George Scott Railton was born in 1849 and married Marianne Parkyn in 1884. He became Secretary of the Christian Mission in 1873 and led a pioneer group of women Salvationists to the USA in 1880. In 1881 he was recalled to London and subsequently conducted Salvation Army campaigns internationally, including in South Africa, the Netherlands, South America, the West Indies, East Asia, West Africa, China, Russia and Turkey. He led Salvation Army work in Germany from 1890-1894 and was Territorial Commander of France, 1901-1902. George died in Germany, 19 July 1913; he was survived by his wife and three children, Nat, David and Esther.

Some correspondence and papers only survive as typescript copies. Some or all of these typescripts were given to the International Heritage Centre by G S Railton's granddaughter, Dame Ruth Railton (King), in 1987. However it is not clear when the typescripts were made.

These records have been divided into the following series:

GSR/1: Correspondence

GSR/2: Assorted papers

Administrative / Biographical History

George Scott Railton was born in Arbroath, Scotland in 1849, the son of Methodist missionaries Lancelot Railton and Margaret Scott. His parents both died in November 1864, probably of cholera. The death of his parents left the 15 year old Railton homeless and jobless. He briefly worked for a shipping company in London, before travelling to Morocco in 1869 as a Christian missionary.

In 1872, Railton read a copy of the Christian Mission's report 'How to reach the masses with the Gospel'. Moved and inspired, he wrote to William Booth and subsequently joined the Christian Mission. For some years, he lived with 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.

In 1880, Railton was sent to America with 'seven Hallelujah lasses' to help pioneer Army work there. After great success developing the work in the USA, Railton was called back to England in 1881. Three years later, he married Marianne Parkyn. The couple settled at Margate and had children, but Railton continued to spent much of his time travelling overseas. He conducted campaigns in South Africa, Holland, South America, the West Indies, the Far East, West Africa, China, Russia, and Turkey. He was appointed head of SA work in Germany, from 1890 to1894 and was Territorial Commander in France from 1901 to 1902.

George Scott Railton died in July 1913, after suffering a heart attack on a train platform in Cologne, Germany.

Access Information

Open for research. The reading room of The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre is open Tue-Fri 9.30-4.00. It is advisable to make an appointment. Tel: 0207 326 7800; email: