He was born William Bramwell Booth in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, the eldest of eight children born to William Booth and Catherine Mumford. He became an active full-time collaborator with his father in 1874, and an officer when the Army began in 1878.
In 1881, General William Booth appointed Bramwell as his Chief of the Staff of The Salvation Army. Bramwell would hold this title until his father's death, when he himself was named General in his father's will.
Bramwell was largely responsible for the development of the Army. He was also known for his teaching of the doctrine of holiness of The Salvation Army, his councils with officers and working with young people.
He and Captain Florence Eleanor Soper of Blaina, Wales were married in 1882. The eldest of their 7 children was Commissioner Catherine Bramwell-Booth. During his years as General, he was well liked and well respected for his missionary work. His books include Echoes and Memories and These Fifty Years.
In 1885, he was associated with the journalist William Thomas Stead in an attempt to publicize the selling into prostitution of young girls. The lurid revelations of how thirteen-year-old Eliza Armstrong was sold for £5 resulted in the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of consent to sixteen years. After the revelations, Booth, Stead, and Rebecca Jarrett, a converted brothel-keeper who assisted them, were arrested on several charges. Booth was acquitted but the others served short prison terms.
In November 1928, the High Council of The Salvation Army asked the General to resign due to his ill health, which hampered him in performance of duties and decisions. He refused and was then reluctantly deposed from office, to be succeeded in the election of Edward Higgins, his Chief of the Staff. General Booth then took the High Council to court, which lost him a lot of respect. He also lost the court case, in 1929. His sister, Evangeline Booth, later succeeded General Higgins to serve as General of The Salvation Army.