Daniel Dunglas Home, D D Home,
Medium Daniel Dunglas Home. Scotland. UK.
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Dunglas Home Medium, UK
20 March 1833
Died 21 June 1886 (aged 53)
The Physical Medium
D. D. Home is depicted levitating 1868.
A plate that is a replication of the Medium levitating by the second storey
window, out of which he went feet first, then returned returning from the
outside of the building by another window of the second storey head first.
Spouse Alexandria de Kroll (marriage 1st August. 1858–1862) and Julie de
Gloumeline Marriage second time 1871 to Julie de Gloumeline
His Parents. William and Elizabeth Home (nee McNeill)
remarkable Clairvoyant and Physical Medium that has been written about, was Donald Dunglas Home,
and one who was the most well known Physical Mediums of the day and probably every
Mediumistic person today would like to aspire
to. He was one of the few Physical Mediums that was never detected doing
anything wrong or trying to trick people. Many in the Christian communities had
tried to put him into the category of a faker; NONE SUCCEEDED.
D Home came
from a humble Scottish family [mother Elizabeth [Betsey] McNeal who had second
sight, and father William Humes [correct spelling] born on the 20th of March
1833, in the small village of Currie near Edinburgh, but he had the airs and
graces to allow him to become part of the circle of high society in the 1800's.
Donald never accepted any monetary gifts for the seances he fronted, but he was
not averse to accepting gifts from those in high society he stayed with over the
years, of which there were many. His list of distinguished friends read like a
fairy tale novel of high society becoming very good friends with many of the
European monarchs including Queen Victoria and the Czar of Russia through whom he met and married a lady
of noble birth.
when a year old, went to stay with his childless aunt Mrs. Mary McNeal Cook in
Portobello, who said Daniel's cot was rocked by invisible hands. When he was
nine, Donald was taken to America by his aunt and uncle to settle in Connecticut
at Greenville [Norwich] to be nearby his parents also his brothers and sisters
[seven in all].
in his formative years produced around him knocks, bangs, apparitions, and so
called hauntings. After his little sister Mary Betsey died she came through to
the family so often whilst Donald was there and was spoken of as though she was
still alive on the earth plane.
had tuberculosis at an early age being subject to a constant cough and fainting
regularly through the disease. He foretold of the death of his friend three days
earlier after seeing him in his bedroom one night. A few days later in 1850 when
he was 17, on coming down to breakfast he told his aunt he had been awakened by
three loud knocks on his bed during the night, his aunt said it was because he
had had a bad prayer meeting and tried to dismiss it out of hand, BUT when he
sat down to the table, there was a great number of raps to the table, on which
she threw a chair at him and said you have brought the devil to our household.
Aunt Mary sent him off to the Congregational church who said they could not find
anything wrong with this gentle boy and refused to have any part of the
exorcism, she then took him to the Methodist church who said it was the work of
the devil and treated him very unkindly. the Baptist Minister prayed over the
kneeling Donald and at every mention of a holy persons name a gentle rap was
heard on the chair the more passionate the Minister prayed the loud became the
Eventually the raps which became a regular happening around his Aunt's house
attracted the attention of the neighbours and Daniel was asking the Spirit
contact to find long lost relatives, broaches, title-deeds and many other
things. It all became too much for his aunt and uncle and after one row his very
devout Christian aunt he was duty bound to leave the house and his aunt threw
his best Sunday suit out of the upstairs window. [Daniel later bought her a
cottage out of the monies [£60,000] given to him by a wealthy widow, a Mrs.
Lyon, who later sued him to get it all back. The judge in this case said if all
the donors to religious and charitable bodies were to be allowed to change their
minds and revoke gifts once made a pretty state of confusion would ensue. She
was made to pay D. D. Home's and her own costs. But the monies were ordered by
the judge to be returned to Mrs Lyon].
time Daniel Home wandered for a few years, lost within his own area of
Mediumship BUT at this time there were many such Mediums in the United States of
America especially on the eastern seaboard. Some of the many things the Mediums
of the time produced where Spirit music, Spirit painting, Direct Spirit Voices,
materialized Spirit faces, luminous Spirit faces and hands, Spirit lights,
levitations, speaking in tongues. At the time it was said by even their enemies,
there were many, many millions of followers and many millions of Mediums some
being professionals and hundreds of thousands of others who were mainly amateur.
wanderings he would visit people and show off his gifts of materializations and
levitations. Most of the time in the bright light of day. many times in gas
light or bright oil lamps and the light of a bright fire, out of which he would
take red hot burning coals and with the permission of the Spirit World would
hand them to others in the seance to hold, never himself or the others being
burned, but it was always where people in the room the seance was being held
could see each other, and everyone could see the Medium Daniel Dunglas Home.
beginning, he sat only for a small circle of friends who had the monetary means
and were in what was called in high society.
no base as a home, he was described as the man who came to tea and stayed. This
was in the homes of people like, substantial farmers, judges, doctors, editors,
merchants, liberal clergymen, and people like that, but as his fame spread, he
was taken to Europe and in Paris was introduced to the Emperor and Empress.
defense of his amateur status, refusing to charge for any seance throughout his
career, and in one book Home wrote, "I was never a professional Medium, When the
Archbishops of Canterbury and York return to the primitive practice of St Peter
and St Paul, and live by catching fish and mending nets, it will be time enough
to raise and outcry against paid Mediums.
presence very heavy Victorian furniture rocked and floated in the air, in other
seances hands materialized and traveled round the Circle of sitters, on other
occasions an accordion wafted along playing of its own accord without anyone
In the testimony of the 25th Earl of Crawford,
in his a long letter to a relative, he describes in detail a seance with
Home that took place in Florence during 1856. He gives an account of the
personalities who were present, and it is in the last degree improbable that
anyone among them was the Medium's accomplice. During the seance the room was
lit by a bright oil-lamp. The sitters and the Medium were ranged round a heavy
table, all except the writer, who remained outside the Circle so as not to be
influenced by suggestion. The table, the chairs, the floor, and even the china
at the far end of the room, all vibrated. He looked under the table, but saw
nothing suspicious. Immediately after this, the heavy dining table rose into the air to a
height of about four feet and remained so whilst he had another look underneath.
On another occasion, after a seance in the same house, when the Earl of
Crawford's brother-in-law, Robert Lindsay, was present, a levitation occurred
under circumstances which make it astounding. The company, including the Medium,
were sitting round the fire having tea when a table at the far end of the room
rose up three feet and plunged about. Despite the violent movement, the loose
slab of marble that formed the table top, and a pencil and paper that lay upon
it, remained undisturbed. So strong was the levitating force that, when Robert
Lindsay approached the table and tried to push it back to the ground, he had to
exert his utmost strength before he could succeed.
Home's first marriage was to Mlle Alexandrina de Kroll on Sunday, 1st August,
1858, in the
The Book Heyday of a Wizard. By Jean Burton 1948 is worth a read if you
can get hold of it, I now have it in my collection. All about D D Home's life BUT
it is only written by Jean Burton on hearsay she did not know the man.
Incidents in my Life. 1884. A book written by D D Home himself, now can be
read as an eBook click on to link or place it in google and it will find it.
Daniel Home's mother, Elizabeth ("Betsy") Home (nee McNeill)
was known as a
seer in Scotland, as were many of her predecessors, like her
great uncle Colin Uruqhart, and her uncle Mr. McKenzie. The gift
second sight was often seen as a
as it foretold instances of tragedy and death.
Home's father, William Home, was the illegitimate son of
10th Earl of Home.
Evidence supports the elder Home's illegitimacy, as various
payments meant for William were made by the 10th Earl.
Elizabeth and William were married when he was 19-years-old, and
found employment at the
Balerno paper mill. The Homes moved into one of small houses
built in the mill for the workforce, in
Currie (six miles south-west of Edinburgh).
William was described as a "bitter, morose and unhappy man" who
drank, and was often aggressive towards his wife.
Elizabeth had eight children while living in the mill house: six
sons and two daughters, although their lives were not fully
recorded. The eldest, John, later worked in the Balerno mill and
eventually managed a paper mill in
Philadelphia, Mary drowned in a stream at 12-years-old in
1846, and Adam died at sea at the age of seventeen while on
route to Greenland, which Home saw in a vision, and was
confirmed five months later.
Daniel Home was Elizabeth's third child, and was born on
20 March 1833.
He was baptised by the Reverend Mr. Somerville three weeks after
his birth at Currie Parish Church (14 April 1833).
The one-year-old Home was deemed a delicate child, having a
"nervous temperament", and was passed to Elizabeth's childless
sister, Mary Cook. She lived with her husband in the coastal
Portobello, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Edinburgh.
It was at the Cook's house that Home's cradle rocked by itself
and the infant had a vision of a cousin's death, who lived in Linlithgow, to the west of Edinburgh.
Sometime between 1838 and 1841,
Daniel Home's aunt and uncle decided
to emigrate to the United States with their adopted son, sailing
in the cheapest class of
steerage as they could not afford a cabin.
After landing in New York, the Cooks travelled to
Norwich, Connecticut, USA.
freckled Home attended school in Greeneville, where he was
known as "Scotchy" by the other students.
13-years-old Home did not join in sports games with other boys,
preferring to take walks in the local woods with a friend called
Edwin. The two boys read the Bible to each other and told
stories, and made a pact stating that if one or the other were
to die, they would try and make contact after death. Home and his aunt soon moved to Troy, NY, which is about
155 miles (249 km) from Greeneville, although Home in his own
book stated it was 300 miles (480 km) away.
Home lost contact with Edwin until one night when Home,
according to Lamont, saw a brightly lit vision of him standing
at the foot of the bed, which gave Home the feeling that his
friend was dead. Edwin made three circles in the air before
disappearing, and a few days later a letter arrived stating that
Edwin had died of malignant
dysentery, which was three days before Home's vision.
A few years later Home and his aunt returned to Greeneville,
and Elizabeth Home emigrated from Scotland to America with the
surviving members of the family to live in
Waterford, Connecticut, which was 12 miles (19 km) away from
the Cook's house.
Home and his mother's reunion was short-lived, as Elizabeth
foretold her own death in 1850. This was also confirmed by Home,
as he saw his mother in a vision saying, "Dan, twelve o'clock",
which was the time of her death. After Elizabeth's death Home turned to religion.
His aunt was a
Presbyterian, and held the
Calvinist view that one's fate has been decided, so Home
Wesleyan faith, which believed that every soul can be saved.
Home's aunt resented Wesleyans so much that she forced Home to
Congregationalist, which was not to her liking, either, but
was more in line with her own religion.
The house was then disturbed by rappings and knocking similar to
those that occurred two years earlier at the home of the
Fox sisters. Ministers were called to the Cook's house: a
Baptist, a Congregationalist, and even a Wesleyan minister, who
all believed that Home was possessed by the Devil, although Home
believed it was a gift from God.
The knocking did not stop however, and a table started to move
by itself, even though Home's aunt put a bible on it and then
placed her full body weight on it.
As the noises did not stop, and were attracting the unwanted
attention of Cook's neighbours, Home was told to leave the
William Cullen Bryant, a poet, and editor of the New
York Evening Post, who witnessed one of Home's
Daniel Home stayed with a friend in
Willimantic, Connecticut, and later
Lebanon, Connecticut, USA. Home held his first seance in March
1851, which was reported in a Hartford newspaper managed by W.
R. Hayden, who wrote that the table moved without anyone
touching it, and kept moving when Hayden physically tried to
After the newspaper report, Home became well-known in
New England, travelling around healing the sick and
communicating with the dead, although he wrote that he was not
prepared for this sudden change in his life because of his
Home never directly asked for money, although he lived very
well on gifts, donations and lodging from wealthy admirers. He
felt that he was on a "mission to demonstrate immortality", and
wished to interact with his clients as one gentleman to another,
rather than as an employee.
In 1852, Home was a guest at the house of Rufus Elmer in
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, giving seances six or seven
times a day, which were visited by crowds of people, including a
Harvard professor, David Wells, and the poet and editor of the
New York Evening Post,
William Cullen Bryant. They were all convinced of Home's
credibility and wrote to the
Springfield Republican newspaper stating that the room was
well-lit, full inspections were allowed, and said, "We know that
we were not imposed upon nor deceived".
It was also reported that at one of Home's demonstrations five
men of heavy build (eight hundred and fifty pounds together) sat
on a table, but it still moved, and others saw "a tremulous
phosphorescent light gleam over the walls".
Home was investigated by numerous people, such as Professor
Robert Hare, the inventor of the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe, and
John Worth Edmonds, a
Supreme Court judge, who were skeptical, but later said they
believed Home was not fraudulent. Home's breakthrough came in August 1852, in
South Manchester, Connecticut, at the house of Ward Cheney,
a successful silk manufacturer. Home was seen to levitate twice
and then rise to up to the ceiling, with louder rappings and
knocking than ever before, more aggressive table movements and
the sounds of a ship at sea in a storm, although persons present
said that the room was badly lit so as to see the Spirit lights.
The levitation at Ward Cheney's house interpreted in
a lithograph from Louis Figuier, Les Mysteres de
la science 1887
New York was now interested in
Daniel Home's abilities, so he moved
to an apartment at Bryant Park on 42nd street. His most verbal
critic in New York was
William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of 'Vanity
Fair'. Thackeray dismissed Home's abilities as "dire
humbug", and "dreary and foolish superstition", although
Thackeray had been impressed when he saw a table turning.
Home thought that Thackeray was "the most skeptical inquirer" he
had ever met, and as Thackeray made public his thoughts, Home
faced public skepticism and further scrutiny.
Home travelled between
Hartford, Springfield, and
Boston during the next few months, and settled in
Newburgh by the
Hudson River in the summer of 1853.
He resided at the Theological Institute, but took no part in any
of the theological discussions held there, as he wanted to take
a course in medicine. Dr. Hull funded Home's studies, and
offered to pay Home five dollars a day for his seances, but Home
refused, as always. His idea was to fund his work with a legitimate salary by
practicing medicine, but he became ill in early 1854, and
stopped his studies. Home was diagnosed with
Tuberculosis, and his doctors recommended recuperation in
Europe. His last seance was in March 1855, in Hartford,
Connecticut, before he travelled to Boston and sailed to England
on board the Africa, at the end of March.
Home's name was originally Daniel Home, but by the
time he arrived in Europe he had lengthened it to Daniel
Dunglas Home, in reference to the Scottish house of Home, of
which his father claimed to be a part.
In London Home found a believer in
spiritualism, William Cox, who owned a large hotel at 53, 54
and 55 Jermyn Street, London. As Cox was so enamoured of Home's
abilities, he let Home stay at the hotel without payment.
Robert Owen, an 83-year-old social reformer, was also
staying at the hotel, and introduced Home to many of his friends
in London society.
At the time Home described as tall and thin, with blue eyes and
auburn hair, fastidiously dressed but seriously ill with
consumption. Nevertheless, he held sittings for notable people
in full daylight, moving objects that were some distance away.
Some early guests at Home's sittings included the scientist
Sir David Brewster, the novelists
Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton and
Thomas Adolphus Trollope, and the
James John Garth Wilkinson.
Home converted most skeptics, but
Robert Browning, the poet, proved more difficult. After
attending a séance of Home's Browning gave his impression of
Home in the unflattering poem, "Sludge the Medium" (1864). His
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was convinced that the phenomena
she witnessed was genuine and their discussions about Home were
a constant source of disagreement.
Robert Browning, who wrote "Sludge the Medium" about
Daniel Home's fame grew, fuelled by his feats of levitation.
William Crookes claimed to know of more than 50 occasions in
which Home levitated "in good light" (gas light) at least five
to seven feet above the floor.
Homes' feats were recorded by
Frank Podmore: "We all saw him rise from the ground slowly
to a height of about six inches, remain there for about ten
seconds, and then slowly descend."In the following years Home travelled across continental Europe,
and always as a guest of wealthy patrons. In Paris, he was
summoned to the
Tuileries to perform a seance for
Napoleon III. Home also performed for
Queen Sophia of the Netherlands, who wrote: "I saw him four
times...I felt a hand tipping my finger; I saw a heavy golden
bell moving alone from one person to another; I saw my
handkerchief move alone and return to me with a knot... He
himself is a pale, sickly, rather handsome young man but without
a look or anything which would either fascinate or frighten you.
It is wonderful. I am so glad I have seen it..."
In 1866, Mrs Lyon, a wealthy widow, adopted Home as her son,
giving him £60,000 in an attempt to gain introduction into high
society. Finding that the adoption did not change her social
situation, Lyon changed her mind, and brought a suit for the
return of her money from Home on the grounds that it had been
obtained by spiritual influence. Under British law, the
defendant bears the burden of proof in such a case, and proof
was impossible since there was no physical evidence. The case
was decided against Home, Mrs Lyon's money was returned, and the
press pilloried Home's reputation. Home's high society
acquaintances thought that he behaved like a complete gentleman
throughout the ordeal, and he did not lose a single important
Daniel Home met one of his future closest friends in 1867; the young
Lord Adare (later the
4th Earl of Dunraven). Adare was fascinated by Home, and
began documenting the seances they held. One of Home's
levitations occurred the following year, and in front of three
witnesses (Adare, Captain Wynne, and
Lord Lindsay) Home was said to have levitated out of the
third storey window of one room, and back in through the window
of the adjoining room.
Home married twice. His Best man was the writer Alexandre
Dumas. In 1858, he married Alexandria de Kroll, the 17-year-old
daughter of a noble Russian family. They had a son, Gregoire,
but Alexandria fell ill with tuberculosis, and died in 1862. In
October 1871, Home married for the second, and last time, to
Julie de Gloumeline, a wealthy Russian, whom he met in St
Petersburg. In the process, he converted to the
Greek Orthodox faith. At the age of 38, Home retired, as his
health was bad – the tuberculosis, from which he had suffered
for most of his life, was advancing -and his powers, he claimed,
were failing. He died on the
21 June 1886,
and was buried in the St. Germain-en-Laye cemetery.
Acceptance and criticism
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who witnessed Home's
mediumship and detailed the four individual types
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stated that Home was unusual in that
he had four different types of mediumship: direct voice
(the ability to let Spirits audibly speak independantly); trance speaker
(the ability to let Spirits speak through oneself);
clairvoyant (ability to see things that are out of view);
and physical medium (moving objects at a distance,
levitation, etc., which was the type of mediumship had no
Home was suspicious of any Medium who claimed powers he himself
did not possess, particularly the materializing Mediums
(such as the
Eddy Brothers), who claimed the ability to produce solid
Spirit forms, and he marked these as fraudulent.
Since materializing Mediums always work in darkened places, Home
urged that all seances be held in the light.
Home, in his 1877 book Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism,
detailed the conjuring tricks employed by false Mediums.
Lord Adare stated that Home "swung out and in" of a window in
a horizontal position.
"He [Home] came in [through the window] again, feet foremost,
and we returned to the other room. It was so dark I could not
see clearly how he was supported" [outside of the three story
Podmore recorded that Home had a constant companion that sat
opposite of him during his seances.
A lady acted as a medium and used to help Home during the
seances attended by Henrietta Ada Ward.
Between 1870 and 1873, Crookes conducted experiments to
determine the validity of the phenomena produced by three
Kate Fox, and Home. Crookes' final report in 1874 concluded
that the phenomena produced by all three Mediums were genuine, a
result which was roundly derided by the scientific
Crookes recorded that he controlled and secured Home by placing
his feet on the top of Home's feet. Crooke's method of foot control later proved inadequate when
Eusapia Palladino, as she merely slipped her foot out and in
of her sturdy shoe. Alexander von Boutlerow, Professor of
Chemistry at the University of St. Petersburg and Home's
brother-in-law, also obtained positive results in his tests of
Frank Podmore and
Milbourne Christopher provide a source of speculation on the
ways in which Home could have duped his sitters.
Some testimony suggests that Home often conducted his
demonstrations in dim light. For example, there is this report
from a witness: "The room was very dark...Home's hands were
visible only as a faint white heap".
The light conditions during Home's most famous feat of
levitation were disputed, but some witnesses recorded that it
was quite dark.
Gordon Stein speculated on the deception of Crookes' testing
devices (with diagrams) and gave a third-hand account of Home
being caught with a vial of oil of Phosphorus. During a Crookes
test when Home "is not touching with his hands." there are
objects just lying beneath his hands that his fingertips are
touching, a small match box and a small bell. The measuring arm
of Crookes' gauge does not exactly "move." It trembles.
It was reported by sitters and Crookes Home's accordion played
only two pieces, Home Sweet Home and The Last Rose of
Summer. Both contain only one-octave. Home played his
accordion with only one hand beneath a table.
James Randi [ the professional paid skeptic ] stated that Home was caught cheating on a few
occasions, but the episodes were never made public, and that the
accordion Home is supposed to have played was a
one-octave mouth organ that Home concealed under his large
moustache. Randi writes that one-octave mouth organs were found
in Home's belongings after his death.
According to Randi 'around 1960'
William Lindsay Gresham told Randi he had seen these mouth
organs in the Home collection at the Society for Psychical
who catalogued Home's collection on its arrival at the SPR does
not record the presence of the mouth organs. It is unlikely
Dingwall would have missed these or did not make them public.
From Wikipedia with slight
Daniel Dunglas ('D. D.') Home
(1833-1886), was, as Beloff summarizes, 'the most celebrated Medium of all
time, judging by the number and impressiveness of the seances of which we
have records and by the calibre of the observers whom he attracted in the
many countries he visited'.(1)
Born in poverty and illegitimate in
Edinburgh on March 20, 1833, Home was adopted by his aunt when he was an
infant, and taken to Connecticut when he was nine. As a child, he
experienced visions and precognition, with the most significant being the
occasions when he saw a friend who had died only days earlier, and then his
own mother about the time of her death even though she was some distance
away from the young Medium. However, it was when physical phenomena began,
that he was forced to leave home, due to his family believing this was
demonic: he was nineteen when he experienced his first levitation. Despite
the situation in which he found himself, demonstrations of his abilities
were sought, and he was welcomed by many living in New York and New England.
In view of his abilities, two Harvard researchers heard of him, and on
carrying out tests, found that physical phenomena occurred without there
being any indication of a this-worldly cause. By the early 1850s, he was
levitating, and partial materializations were being produced in his seances.
By 1855, when Home came to Britain,
the news of Spiritualism had already reached this country: the American
Mediums, Mrs Hayden and Mrs Roberts had travelled here within five years of
the Hydesville phenomenon that resulted in the birth of modern Spiritualism.
Home therefore found a receptive audience when he arrived here.
An attendance at one of Home's seances would often witness extraordinary
phenomena. As Gauld comments: 'His sitters were quite frequently privileged
to witness the most astounding events, often in good light, levitation of
tables and other objects, playing of musical instruments by unseen hands,
the actual materialisation of spirit hands, and so forth'. Gauld further
adds: 'He never charged for his sittings, whatever gains he made from them
being indirect and in the way of hospitality and
Sitters would also sometimes be aware
of the room shaking (that was sometimes described as similar to being in a
ship when the engine began to operate), raps, touches, direct writing,
Spirit lights appearing and psychic breezes being felt. Communicators also
spoke through Home when he was entranced. What was striking about Home was
that unlike most other Mediums, he was able to conduct his seances in a
lighted environment. Indeed, as the critical Podmore had to admit, the
seance room 'could honestly be described as well lighted'.(3)
One of the more amusing incidents that
occurred during a seance, was when the next-world visitors thought it would
be interesting to dismantle a bronze figurine and throw the pieces about the
room. Unfortunately, after the seance had concluded, one piece could not be
found despite careful searching. Home requested that the Spirits direct him
to the piece and this was duly done. Enmore Jones, who recorded details of
the event, asserted that, 'It confirmed me in the belief that our spirit
friends are more keen-eyed than we, that they hear our words, and can
control even our physical organism'.(4) Another example of the variety of
phenomena that arose was the seance on 17 July 1868; a sitter reported how
during the seance, held in a lighted environment and in his own home, his
elderly mother was levitated with the chair on which she sat. Clearly,
attending a seance with Home was not an occasion that was easily forgotten.
The report made by William Crookes,
who began an investigation in 1871 concerning Home's mediumship, included
details of the many instances when phenomena occurred. One example was the
seance conducted on 19 July 1871 when there was sufficient daylight for
sitters to see each other. After a materialization was heard to join the
Circle and touched Mrs Crookes, the accordion was played and Crookes
recorded that, 'we had a beautiful accompaniment, the chirping and singing
of the birds being heard along with the accordion'. Raps were heard and a
luminous cloud appeared: 'Immediately the white luminous cloud was seen to
travel...to Mrs Wm. C.'s hand, and a small sprig of the plant was put into
it. She had her hand then patted by a delicate female hand...The table was
now heard to be moving, and it was seen to glide slowly'. Later that month
during another seance, the accordion was played and 'we heard a man's rich
voice accompanying it in one corner of the room, and a bird whistling and
In addition to these phenomena, there
were further abilities that distinguished Home from other mediums. One such
feature was the elongation of his body by up to a foot in length. Another
feat was his handling of pieces of coal taken from the fire. One witness who
was present on such an occasion testified that Home was seen to take a
'red-hot coal...and carry it up and down the room'.(6) Many of those who
attended Home's seances were initially sceptical; Inglis cited the view of
Sir David Brewster, who after seeing Home's mediumship, believed that it had
'upset the philosophy of fifty years'. However, Brewster then argued that
the phenomena had purely human origin; despite this change of opinion, his
daughter supplied details of his own personal account of the seance when he
detailed the events that included vibrations, rappings, levitations of
tables, partial-materializations, and a declaration these could not be
accounted for by a this-worldly explanation. Why then had Brewster said that
the phenomena could be explained? Simply, because by giving support to Home
this: 'might have jeopardised his prospects. So he had chosen to smear Home.
Four years later, he had enjoyed his reward when he was appointed to be
Principal of Edinburgh University'.(7) It is an extraordinary and absurd
situation that some choose to attend seances, in the knowledge that they
will not vouch for the genuineness of phenomena if they actually occur.
Nonetheless, this was the type of behaviour that Home, and many other
mediums since Home's time have had to endure.
In the autumn of 1855, Home travelled
to Florence, and his mediumship was witnessed by various personages during
the period, e.g. Prince Murat, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie; the
latter was convinced that her father had materialized in view of being able
to identify a recognizable defect that he had on his hand that also appeared
on the materialized form. Direct writing was also produced with Napoleon
Bonaparte signing his name, that the current Emperor declared was indeed
Bonaparte's handwriting. In December 1855, an attempt was made against his
life due to the reputation that he had gained as a necromancer. During the
period while abroad, Home joined the Catholic church and was received by
Pope Pius IX, although this conversion was apparently short-lived, and he
resumed his mediumship. Various rumours circulated while he was abroad to
account for his powers; these included that he chloroformed his sitters,
used the secret police to obtain information about them, that he received
'electrical power' from cats, and that he carried a monkey in his coat and
this caused the movement object and the sensation of hands during seances.
When Home returned to Britain in 1859,
he brought Alexandrina, his wife, having married in St. Petersburg; a son,
Gregoire, was then born to them. By this time his status had increased
considerably and he began to give regular seances, 'attended by many
celebrities...and droves of peers and peeresses'.(8) This particular period
was also important as the newspapers began to deal with Home's mediumship
with serious discussion. One person who participated in this was W. M.
Thackeray; when challenged about his favourable view concerning Home's
mediumship, he responded to his critics with a statement that many NAS
members would find very apt when speaking to sceptics: 'It is all very well
for you, who have probably never seen any spiritual manifestations, to talk
as you do; but had you seen what I have witnessed, you would hold a
For much of the twelve years
following, Home resided in London; when his wife, who had been wealthy and
contributed to his upkeep, died in 1862, he was forced to maintain himself
by giving lectures and suchlike. He wrote
Incidents in My Life,
and then went to Rome to study to take up sculpturing; however, he was
ordered to leave on the charge of sorcery. He therefore promised to stop
mediumistic activity, but as this was not in his control and persisted, he
was forced to leave papal territory, and returned to Britain in April 1864.
In 1866, he received help from friends and supporters who founded the
'Spiritual Athenaeum' to support him. One of the more bizarre incidents in
Home's colourful life was him being adopted by Mrs Lyon who then showered
him with money and gifts. A short time later, Mrs Lyon decided to turn
against Home and demand back what had been given to him; this resulted in a
court case in 1868. There was considerable testimony against Mrs Lyon, but
the onus of proof fell upon Home, and his mediumistic activities clearly
brought about dis-favour. Home lost, but what is noteworthy in the matter is
the fact that so many people gave evidence of Home's mediumship and no
accusation of fraud was proved. During the case, yet another attempt was
made against his life, because the Christians thought he was evil..
The event that is best remembered of
Home's mediumship is when, on 13 December 1868, Home floated out of the
window of a third floor room in Ashley
and then returned via another window to join the witnesses. This was
achieved in the presence of Capt. Wynne, the Earl of Dunraven (at the time,
Lord Adare) and the Earl of Crawford (at the time, Lord Lindsay). Various
imaginative suggestions have been offered to account for, or rather explain
away this feat, including the hypnotizing of those present, blackmail, or
that Home had accomplices. As so often happens, there are those who feel
able to supply various conjectural explanations, despite not even being
there, but the weight of the testimony of those actually present cannot be
so easily discounted. The event not only included Home levitating in
mid-air, but even his method of exit was astonishing. After Home returned to
the building, he took one of those present to the room from where he had
made his earlier exit, and the witness recorded that the window was barely
open by a foot and 'he then went through the open space, head first, quite
rapidly, his body being nearly horizontal and apparently rigid. He then came
in again, feet foremost...'.(10) The Earl of Dunraven described some of
Home's activity during 1867-1869, in
Experiences with D. D. Home
in Spiritualism, that detailed the events of some eighty seances. In
1872, Home produced a second edition of
Incidents in My Life,
and this was followed by the publication of
Lights and Shadows of
Home's mediumship was not limited to
activities such as levitation, etc, but an embracing of the next world, and
producing evidence of survival. One example was the occurrence in November
1868, when Dannie Cox, a boy who had been known to the sitter, spoke through
the entranced Home and said that he would manifest himself. Following this,
the record reports, 'we heard a Spirit come in and walk about the room; and
perceived a light near the ceiling. Little Dannie Cox then came and...he
bounced up and down on my feet, feeling just as heavy as a child of his age
would if in the flesh...I saw him distinctly as a shadowy figure, of the
same size as his mortal body'. In the same report, the Earl of Dunraven
recorded how, in the seance held on 6 August 1868, a communicator spoke with
Mrs Hennings, one of the sitters, and reminded her of a past experience and
recalled details of the events: this had occurred some thirty years earlier.
The communicator then added 'I mention this to satisfy you of my identity'.
The account includes the observation that 'no one present knew of this
incident, and it had even escaped Mrs Hennings' memory until reminded of
it'. Confirming the Spiritualism stance concerning animal survival (a view
that distinguishes it from most other belief-systems in the western world),
on 6 April 1869, when Home became entranced, a communicator spoke about a
dog belonging to a woman who had sat with Home; it was stated her dog had
died, and 'passed from earth; but she is not destroyed'. The writer added
the note that Home 'could not have heard of its death, which took place
between 10 and 11 o'clock'. In fact, the communication took place shortly
after 11pm.(11) In addition to the physical phenomena that Home produced,
there was a considerable amount of teaching imparted through his mediumship
regarding the nature of the afterlife. The quality of evidence supplied by
Home is demonstrated by Gauld's reference to him: even though Gauld believes
that more evidence of survival arises from mental mediumship, he concedes
that evidential communications can occur through physical mediumship and
Home's mediumship is an example of this, i.e. he refers to a seance in 1870
when personal details were supplied to the sitters reducing one to
Home married for the second time in
1871, and again, his wife, Julie de Gloumeline, was a wealthy Russian. He
ceased his mediumistic activities during the 1870s, and died on June 12,
1886, of tuberculosis, after suffering a long period of painful illness: his
body was buried at St Germain-en-Laye. After his death, his wife wrote two
books about him: D. D.
Home: His Life and Mission (1888), and
The Gift of D D Home
The number of seances that Home gave
is estimated to have been in excess of fifteen hundred. Indeed, his
abilities were 'witnessed on hundreds of occasions by kings and conjurors,
scientists and socialites, priests and policemen' and no fraud was ever
detected.(13) His mediumship produced phenomena 'at all times and seasons,
under all sorts of conditions - in broad daylight, in artificial light, in
semi-darkness...indoors, out of doors, in private houses, in hotels - at
home and abroad'.(14) Unfortunately, it would appear there has been a
disproportionate amount of interest in the more unusual features of Home's
mediumship, rather than concentrating on communication and evidence of
survival: features that must always be the central characteristic of
Spiritualism and mediumship. Myers of the SPR noted that the main interest
in Home was his telekinetic powers rather than securing evidence of the
identities of communicators; he therefore added that 'it cannot but be
deplored that the inestimable chance for experiment and record...was almost
entirely thrown away by the scientific world'.(15) In fact, Home appears to
have been yet another Medium who demonstrated his talents to the wrong type
of sitter. A consideration of his work gives the unmistakable impression
that 'many of Home's sitters attended his seances merely for a stylish lark,
with no deep convictions to be confirmed or challenged, and only a desire
for amusement and novelty to motivate them'.(16)
With regard to claims of fraud, Home
stands out in this respect also: Carrington mentioned how, and this is
repeatedly stated, that Home was never exposed as a fraud,(17) and other
writers, some hardly sympathetic to mediumship, are also forced to
acknowledge this point.(18) In fact, Home was anxious to expose fraudulent
mediums who brought the subject into disrepute, and in his Lights and
Shadows of Spiritualism, he dealt with the question of fraudulent mediumship
in some detail. In the case of attempts to reproduce the physical phenomena
that occurred with Home: 'Prominent stage magicians such as Harry Houdini,
John Nevil Mackelyne, and John Mulholland claimed that they could duplicate
Home's feats but never did. Houdini announced he would duplicate Home's
levitation at Lord Adare's home, but cancelled the event'.(19)
An adequate summary of Home's
mediumistic abilities is surely supplied by Gauld: 'What is so
astonishing...about D. D. Home is the sheer number of seemingly
disinterested persons who were prepared to testify that he had in good or
passable light produced startling phenomena before their very eyes'.
Furthermore, in respect of Home effecting the phenomena by deception, Gauld
argues that in view of what occurred, 'they could hardly have been the work
of conjuring'; and with regard to hallucination/ hypnotism: 'It is true that
not infrequently a phantom hand or a phantom figure would be visible only to
some of the sitters...but so many of the other phenomena were observed on so
many different occasions by so many different witnesses that the question of
hallucination can in most cases hardly be raised'.(20) Podmore, who was
hardly one for giving any credit to physical mediums, noted that while Home
suffered from vanity (the Earl of Dunraven also noted this, believing that
it was necessary as a defense mechanism against the invective suffered), he
believed the impression gained by the people who met Home was 'of a highly
emotional, joyous, childlike nature, full of generous impulses, and lavish
affection to all comers'. Moreover, Home 'professed a fervent belief in his
own mission as a teacher of the truth of immortality'.(21) Surely, there
really can be no doubt that he fulfilled that mission.
One example of this is when, in a
seance with Home, a delighted sitter told the communicators how pleased they
would have been 'had you lived' to witness the progress being made. In a
blunt response to this sitter, the communicators retorted: 'We are not
Parapsychology: A Concise History (London: Athlone Press, 1993), p.41.
(2)A. Gauld, The Founders
of Psychical Research (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968),
pp.69,71. (3)F. Podmore,
Modern Spiritualism (London: Methuen, 1902), p.232. (4)Spiritual
Magazine, 1861, p.480. (5)W. Crookes, 'Notes of Seances with D. D.
Home', PSPR, Pt. XV
(1889), pp.107-108,116. (6)Ct., W. F. Barrett,
On the Threshold of the
Unseen, 2nd edn (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1917), pp.76-77.
(7)B. Inglis, Natural and
Supernatural (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977), pp.227-229.
(8)Inglis, Ibid., p.230. (9)Ct., Inglis, Ibid., p.231. (10)Earl of Dunraven,
'Experiences in Spiritualism',
PSPR, 35 (1924), p.156.
(11)Earl of Dunraven, Ibid., pp.90,132,242. (12)A. Gauld,
Mediumship and Survival
(London: Heinemann, 1982), p.23. (13)Inglis, Op. Cit., (London: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1977), p.225. (14)Earl of Dunraven, Op. Cit., p.22. (15)F. W. H.
Myers, Human Personality
and its Survival of Bodily Death, 3rd edn., rev (Norwich: Pelegrin
Trust, 1992), p.260. (16)J. Oppenheim,
The Other World
(Cambridge: CUP, 1985), p.13. (17)H. Carrington,
The Physical Phenomenon of
Spiritualism (London: Werner Laurie, 1907), p.372. (18)E.g. Oppenheim,
Op. Cit., p.11. And, Podmore, Op. Cit., 2:230. (19)R. E. Guiley,
Harper's Encyclopedia of
Mystical and Paranormal Experience (San
CA: HarperCollins, 1991), p.267. (20)The
Founders of Psychical Research, pp.215-216. (21)Podmore, Op. Cit.,
pp.228,229. (22)Crookes, Op. Cit., p.122.
From Fortune City with slight alterations.
Spiritualism was introduced into Holland in about 1857. The first Dutch
Spiritualist on record is J. N. T. Marthese, who, after studying psychic
phenomena in foreign countries, finally returned to his native Holland, taking
with him the Scottish Medium D. D. Home. The latter held seances at The Hague
before several learned societies, and by command of Queen Sophia a seance was
given in her presence. The Medium himself, in an account of the performance,
stated that the royal lady was obliged to sit seven seances on consecutive
evenings before any results were obtained. These results, however, were
apparently satisfactory, for the queen was thereafter a staunch supporter of the
During Home's visit Spiritualism gained a considerable following in Holland and
the practice of giving small private seances became fairly widespread. Spirit
voices were heard at these gatherings, the touch of Spirit hands was felt, and
musical instruments were played by invisible performers.
This cage mechanism was invented by William Crookes. In which was held
an accordion by one hand under the table and it was musically played while Home held it with one
hand in during the seance,
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