When you read the paranormal history books here in Australia, people will often be able to tell you about famous figures from England and even the US, but they don't know much about the work that was done here in our very own country. It is time to change that, so today let's meet 3 famous Spiritualists from Melbourne's Past!
Image Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography
William Terry was originally born in London in 1836 and ended up calling Melbourne home in 1853 when he traveled here with his father and siblings. In the late 1850s, his family became involved in spiritualism where William discovered that he had psychic abilities along with the gift of mediumship. Giving up on the family drapery business, in 1869 he decided to become a full-time medium. The following year he set up a shop on Russell Street in the city of Melbourne where he sold spiritualist faith books as well as offering his services as a trance medium, magnetic healer, and clairvoyant herbalist. His shop would later become the Melbourne headquarters for the Victorian spiritualist movement. He was responsible for sponsoring tours from famous mediums such as Henry Slade (who was later charged for fraudulent activity back in London) and in 1870 Terry launched The Harbinger of Light, Australia's first spiritualist magazine based on the faith which he edited until he retired in 1905. He helped to establish the Victorian Association of Progressive Spiritualists and became an inaugural fellow and councilor of the Theosophical Society in Australia. He even toured the USA as a representative of the spiritualist movement here in Australia. Terry passed away in 1913 and is buried at the Melbourne Cemetery. While he wasn't born in Australia, he remains one of the key figures in establishing the spiritualist movement here in Australia.
Image Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography
This former prime minister from Melbourne was a prominent figure in the spiritualist movement. Born in Collingwood in 1856, long before he became Prime Minister of our country, he was president of the Victorian Association of spiritualists in 1877. He was a teacher at Progressive Lyceum which was a spiritualist Sunday School where he would also meet his future wife. Deakin would often attend seances, arrange lectures and even organize experiments to test various paranormal phenomena. He also published A New Pilgrim's Progress an allegory of the progress of a soul towards perfection which was supposedly channeled through Deakin from preacher John Bunyan who published the original The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come in 1678. Aside from spiritualism, Deakin was also a journalist, politician, and even a lawyer. He famously defended (unsuccessfully) infamous murderer Frederick Deeming. Some even theorize Deeming could have been Jack the Ripper. Later on, Alfred Deakin was Prime Minister of Australia three times: from 24 September 1903 to 27 April 1904, 5 July 1905 to 13 November 1908, and 2 June 1909 to 29 April 1910, making him the second, fifth, and seventh Prime Minister of Australia for which is he most well known. Deakin passed away in 1919. While he is most famously a prime minister who led Australia into the federation, he was a very important figure within the spiritualist movement.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Born in 1870 in Melbourne, Bailey became a World famous apport medium who was later exposed as fraudulent. His loyal following, however, stuck with him until he passed away. In 1889, Bailey who was a bootmaker at the time attended his first seance where he was told that he had abilities of his very own and he began his work with mediumship as a part-time professional medium. In 1902, his work was highlighted in Terry's publication Harbinger of Light intriguing the world with his ability to apparently summon items from thin air, otherwise known as apports. Famous spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was particularly fascinated with Bailey's abilities producing coins through to live birds and even a live shovel nose shark measuring 18 inches long. For a period of time, Bailey was the personal medium to Melbourne millionaire Thomas Welton Stanford, who made a collection of the apports Bailey produced which is now preserved at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. While figures such as Doyle were initially impressed by his abilities, Bailey would later be exposed as a fraud finding that one of his controls was responsible for bringing in the apports which would later 'appear'. Even after being exposed with figures such as Harry Price outing the claims, Bailey was still practicing up until 1930 where he still had a small devoted following. Bailey passed away in 1947 and remains the most controversially famous apport medium in the World.
(You can read more about Apports in my article Apports, Asports & JOTT)
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