Charles James Booth – Businessman, Philanthropist, Poverty Reformer Born 30th March 1840 – Liverpool, England. Died 23rd November 1916 Descendant of the Ancient Booths also (10th Cousin 4 x removed of Carolyn Booth)
Apart from all the notable Knights, Earls, and Bishops that appear in the Booth family history, there is one Booth who without title or noble privilege, stands alone as a very extraordinary man, The Right Honorable Charles James Booth.
A man who built a shipping and trading empire, and at a time in his life when he had enough wealth to sit back and enjoy life, instead, for the next 30 years, dedicated his life to solving the plight of the poor and all matters relating to poverty, housing and social injustice in England.
The life of Charles Booth is extremely well documented both as a very successful businessman of his time, as well as his enormous Philanthropic work. His life’s work cannot be done justice here so I recommend that it is worth the effort of doing some independent reading in regards to The Right Honorable Charles Booth, you will not be disappointed. There were very few people of his caliber in his time.
Charles married Mary Macauley in 1871 . Mary became to Booth an invaluable advisor in the business, an active contributor to the work of his monumental survey into London life and labour, as well as running a substantial household and raising six children.
In an era when Charles was surrounded by extreme poverty and extremely poor living conditions, he considered having money, as a means of helping his fellow man, and he simply got up and did it. Spending the equivalent of over 3 million AUS $dollars of his own money in the course of his personal challenge to bring change and hope for the poor in England.
Charles is attributed with being the founder of the “Old Age Pension” he is responsible for the phrase “The Poverty Line” being the first to publish this phrase in his 1st of 5 Volumes relating to Industry and trade, poverty and the the plight of the ageing poor.
While in his day, his extensive work was met with resistance from the English parliament, the New Zealand Government in 1898 was the first to adopt and passed “The Pensions Act”and Australia brought in a pension schemes in some states in early 1900 for people over 70 years of age. The Aussies and Kiwis always early adopters.
In 1908 the Liberal Government of England finally passed the “Old Age Pension Bill”.
Charles Booth is also offered a Knighthood which he declines.
In later life, Charles Booth moved to Grace Dieu Manor near Thringstone, Leicestershire. Here he and his wife Mary built England’s first community centre, and founded Grace Dieu Cricket Club. Charles Booth Died in 1916 and was buried in the churchyard of Saint Andrew’s Church in the village, and a memorial dedicated to him stands on the village green. There is also a blue plaque on the house where he lived in South Kensington, 6 Grenville Place.
Just short of 100 years since his death we can today all be grateful for Charles Booth’s outstanding achievements and legacy.
– click on the links below