“Mom! Quick! I have a remarkable story to tell!”, a young boy shouted, excitedly, as he rushed to the kitchen to find his mother. Indeed, how can anyone not deem the story of the Boys’ Brigade as a remarkable one? As the pioneer of uniformed organisations for youth, even before the formation of the Scouts, the Boys’ Brigade grew from this one Company, formed in Scotland, into an international movement that changed the lives of many young people.
It all began on the 4th of October, in 1883, Glasgow – the land of the Scots. William Alexander Smith, who was a teacher at that time, served as a Lieutenant with the volunteers on Saturday afternoons. William Smith was concerned about the lack of discipline amongst the boys in his Sunday School class, some of whom were over 13 years old and already working for a living. On one fine day, Smith shared his idea, to combine military drill with group physical exercises and religious instruction, with his two friends, in which they later invited boys from North Woodside Mission Sabbath School and formed the first company of The Boys' Brigade – the 1st Glasgow Company.
Sir William Alexander Smith was born in Thurso, Scotland in 1854. Following his father’s death, his family moved to Glasgow in his teenage years and became involved in church activities. In 1883, Sir William was teaching in the North Woodside Mission Sunday School whilst holding the rank of Lieutenant in the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. It was a combination of these two activities that led him to start the Boys’ Brigade on 4 October 1883.
Sir William A. Smith served as the first full-time Brigade Secretary, in 1887, where he worked towards spreading the Brigade across the world. In 1909, King Edward VII knighted Sir William for his contribution towards youth development. Speaking of royal tributes, here is what was spoken about our Founder, by King George VI: “Sir William Smith, builded better than he knew, for he started not only a great movement but one from which all our present widespread youth training was destined to spring…” (Birch 1970. p.71)
We welcome you to learn more about our founder, as well as the details of what led to the founding of the world’s first uniformed organisation for youths – HERE (First for Boys).
Our Emblem, Motto & Object
The Motto of the Boys’ Brigade is: “Sure & Stedfast”.
Our Emblem was originally a plain anchor that bear our Motto, along with a capital ‘B’ on each side. The design of the emblem was based on the wonderful message from the Bible in Hebrews 6:19a – “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast”. When the Boy’s Brigade and the Boys’ Life Brigade united in 1926, a red cross was added onto the emblem, signifying the merger of the two organisations.
The Object of The Boys’ Brigade is:“The advancement of Christ's Kingdom among Members and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all that tend towards a true Christian Character.”
The text of this object has remained the same since the beginning, except with the addition of the word ‘obedience’ in 1893. In Malaysia, the word ‘Boys’ has been changed to ‘Members’ to reflect the incorporation of girls in the Brigade in 1994. In practice, the object means:
- To help members develop and grow in moral character
- To train members to become loyal and responsible citizens
- To promote members physical fitness and develop their leadership potential