Ladies of Paranormal Past: Mary Rose Barrington

4th March 2023. Reading Time: 6 minutes General, Ladies of paranormal past. 1134 page views. 0 comments.

In this edition of Ladies of Paranormal Past, we look at some of the work of Mary Rose Barrington which many of you may know from her book detailing the JOTT phenomenon.

Mary Rose Barrington is one of the more modern-day examples of a trail-blazing lady in paranormal research.  Born in 1926 in London to her American parents, Barrington went on to study English at Oxford University and eventually law.  Working as a barrister and a solicitor for the majority of her life, she was also a staunch campaigner for animal rights using her knowledge to advocate for animal protection and also for voluntary euthanasia.  She contributed to drafting 3 bills for Parliament in these areas, however, they were unsuccessful but did not go unnoticed creating much-needed discussions in these areas.

At the age of 15, Barrington read Sir Oliver Lodge's Survival of Man igniting her interest in psychical research.  While studying at Oxford, she put this interest to use and joined the university's psychical research society where she went on to become its president.  In 1957 she joined the well-known Society for Psychical Research.  She was invited to join the council in 1962 and would later go on to become its Vice President in 1995.

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Most investigators may know Barrington or at least her popular theory on JOTT - Just One Of Those Things.


Barrington coined the term JOTT in her book “JOTT: when things disappear... and come back or relocate - and why it really happens” (2018).  It was used to describe the phenomena of objects seemingly disappearing and then reappearing days, months, weeks later in what seem to be strange circumstances.

Barrington classified this weird occurrence into two different categories:

  1. Jottles:  This is the more common of the two where objects are displaced either via teleportation, poltergeist phenomena or an apport (a spirit moving an object).  
  2. Oddjott:  Miscellaneous weird episodes that have no rational explanation 

Jottles are then further broken down into subcategories:

  • Walkabout. This is the most common jottle, where an item disappears from a known location and is found later in another and often bizarre location, without any sort of explanation as to how it got there.
  • Comeback. An item disappears from a known location and anywhere from minutes to years, reappears in this very same location. 
  • Flyaway. An item disappears from a known location and never reappears. 
  • Turnup. An item that appears in a location that it couldn’t have been in before. 
  • Windfall. An unknown item to you randomly appears.
  • Trade-in. An item that disappears and never comes back, but a similar item appears instead

In Barrington's book. she details 74 cases that were selected from a pool of 180 in the Jott File to demonstrate her research.  Here is a snippet:

9. The chewed gramophone record (O3)

A gramophone record (a 10- or 12-inch disk made of shellac, 10 inches in this case) that had been chewed by a small child disappeared when the child tossed it in the air!  It came back after five years absence, complete with tooth marks.  This is surely too bizarre for anyone to make up with an expectation of being believed.

23. Pendant found in a case (TP2)

Another small item of personal adornment the sort I usually accuse of clinging to clothes or disappearing down cracks-was a pendant, found in a very odd place, and found not by the jottler but by her neighbor, a rather unusual feature.  "Anne .. found a pendant of mine in the cage of her guinea-pigs.  I didn't even know she had those animals."  This senseless story was briefly related by MMO, a Dutch lady who in replay to questions said that she did not attach any particular significance to the wandering article.  Just one of those things.

41. Reading glasses take a breather (WK20)

"It happened...on the 24th November, 1982, in the afternoon.  My wife went for her glasses which she left on the kitchen table.  They were not there.  When our visitor left, a full-scale search was made, but without result.  Outside the house we have a large sink, not used as such, but filled with earth, which is used for raising seedlings and small plants.  On the following morning, the glasses, neatly folded, were found, obviously carefully placed on the soil in that sink, between two plants.  They were not folded when they disappeared."  It has to be said that the visitor was Melvyn Harris, a well-known paranormal denier, and I have to wonder if he organized a psuedo-jottle.  Such things have been known.  But speaking from personal experience, this was not a house in which visitors were entertained in the kitchen.  Tea was served in style.

47. The postage stamp (FY1)

The first of the flyaway cases concerns a very small item, one of the sort that is normally cosigned to the unselected.  But it is closely described by the very reliable Frank Ducker, whose slighted watch (WK7) was noted in the previous chapter, and its mode of departure is very unusual.  FD was firmly grasping a stamp of a particular value, and he was very determined not to lose this one specimen.  As he crossed the room to unite it with its intended envelope, holding it carefully between thumb and index finger, he felt it dematerialize (not slip) and though he had kept his eyes on it as well as his grip, he saw no sign of it falling to the floor, and it was never found.  This is not the only case in which jottlers have felt something cease to have substance while they are holding it, and it is relevant here to refer to one of the Owen comeback cases.

JOTT: when things disappear... and come back or relocate - and why it really happens

Mary Rose Barrington (2018)

Barrington's work was much more than just mentioned above of course.  She was involved in working and investigating many cases and was a member of the Spontaneous Cases Committee of the SPR.  Cases involved poltergeist-like activity, mediumship, reincarnation and possession.  She looked at it all and wrote about it all.  In 1964, she investigated the case of the 'flying thermometer' centred around a 7-year-old boy who believed the house was haunted.  Objects often moved, along with undesirable smells, creaks in the floorboards and moaning sounds.  The most curious part was a thermometer which was secured to the wall and fell to the floor.  Barrington theorised the claims were really centred around the boy's psychic abilities.  It is a topic she would go on to write about further.  The topics of psychic phenomena seem to be a favourite of Barrington's where she often defended controversial mediums.  

Much of her work and findings were published in books including:

Talking About Psychical Research: Thoughts on Life, Death and the Nature of Reality (2019)

A World In A Grain Of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki, by Ian Stevenson, Zofia Weaver, and Mary Rose Barrington, (2005).

Crookes and the Spirit World , ed. with RG Medhurst & KM Goldney (1972)

As well as several contributions to journals. 

For a full detailed profile on Barrington and her work, visit the Psi Encyclopedia as it is too much to include in just a brief summary.

Barrington went on to retire and sadly passed away in February of 2020.  Many of you were lucky enough to have met or even sat in on lectures from Barrington and would agree she is a Lady of Paranormal Past that most definitely deserves to be honoured.


JOTT: when things disappear... and come back or relocate - and why it really happens (2018)

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