Everard Feilding

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Everard Feilding
Everard Feilding.png
Everard Feilding with Dudley Cary-Elwes, Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton.
Born 6 March 1867
Died 8 February 1936
Occupation Barrister, psychical researcher

Francis Henry Everard Joseph Feilding (6 March 1867 – 8 February 1936) best known as Everard Feilding was an English barrister, naval intelligence officer and psychical researcher.

Career[edit]

As a teenager, Feilding worked as a midshipman for the Royal Navy during the Egyptian campaign in 1882. He was educated at Oscott College and attended Trinity College, Cambridge in 1887, he obtained his bachelors of law degree in 1890.[1] Feilding was a Catholic, he began his interest in psychical research from his visit to Lourdes in 1892.[2] He was secretary of the Society for Psychical Research from 1903 to 1920. His father was Rudolph Feilding, 8th Earl of Denbigh and his brother Rudolph Feilding, 9th Earl of Denbigh.[1] A pioneer of rubber planting in Malaya, he was chairman of Kuala Lumpur Rubber Company in 1906.[3]

Feilding served as a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) and worked for the British Intelligence Staff in Egypt and Palestine (1915–1919).[4][5][6] Feilding married the psychic medium Stanisława Tomczyk in 1919.[7] It is alleged by biographers that he was a friend of the occultist Aleister Crowley.[1]

Psychical researcher Eric Dingwall wrote that Feilding was a "member of one of the most distinguished Catholic families in England" and was "one of the most acute investigators of alleged supernormal phenomena that this country has ever produced."[8]

Feilding report[edit]

Feilding is most well known for his investigation of the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino. In 1908, the SPR appointed a committee of three to examine her in Naples. The committee consisted of W. W. Baggally, Hereward Carrington and Everard Feilding.[9] Although the investigators caught Palladino cheating during the séances, they were convinced Palladino had produced genuine paranormal phenomena such as levitations of the table, movement of the curtains, movement of objects from behind the curtain and touches from hands. In 1909, all three investigators wrote a report on the medium in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.[9] The report became known as the "Feilding report" and has been a source of debate between psychical researchers and sceptics.

Frank Podmore in his book The Newer Spiritualism (1910) wrote a comprehensive critique of their report. Podmore said that the report provided insufficient information for crucial moments and the investigators representation of the witness accounts contained contradictions and inconsistencies as to who was holding Palladino's feet and hands.[9] Podmore found that the accounts among the investigators conflicted as to who they claimed to have observed the incident. Podmore wrote that the report "at almost every point leaves obvious loopholes for trickery."[9] The psychologist C. E. M. Hansel criticised the report based on the conditions of the séances being susceptible to trickery. Hansel noted that they were performed in semi-dark conditions, held in the late night or early morning introducing the possibility of fatigue and the "investigators had a strong belief in the supernatural, hence they would be emotionally involved."[10]

Although originally convinced of her alleged powers, Feilding attended séances with Palladino in 1910 with the magician William S. Marriott and concluded her mediumship was fraudulent.[11]

Paul Kurtz has noted that "Skeptic's question the first Feilding report because in a subsequent test by Feilding and other tests by scientists, Palladino had been caught cheating."[12]

Abbé Vachère case[edit]

In 1914, Feilding with Maud Gonne and W. B. Yeats visited Mirebeau to investigate an alleged miracle of a bleeding oleograph that was in the possession of priest Abbé Vachère. Feilding took a blood sample to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. They concluded that it was not human blood.[13]

In 1915, Feilding returned to Mirebeau. He made several visits to Vachère's home.[14] The oleograph had been placed in his chapel. Feilding found that it was wet but he did not directly observe the picture to have bled. As a test, he locked the chapel door and placed a slip of paper in the hinge. He discovered hours later that although the picture was wet, the paper had been dislodged. The evidence was negative but Feilding did not believe Vachère was guilty of deception.[14]

In 1920, Feilding and his wife visited Vachère. This time he alleged that a small statue of Jesus in the chapel had also bled.[14] Feilding and his wife investigated this claim. His wife suspected that Vachère sprinkled water on the picture from a small pot she found behind some flowers in the room.[15] Feilding took a blood sample and this time the results showed it was human blood. He did not come to any definite conclusion but because of the evidence suggestive of fraud, sceptics have dismissed the case as a hoax.[14]

Other investigations[edit]

Feilding was a friend of the neurologist Henry Head who he attempted to get involved with psychical research.[16] He invited Head to a "ghost hunt" at an alleged haunted house known as "Pickpocket Hall" on his brother's estate in Pantasaph. He wrote in a letter to Wilfrid Meynell that they spent a few nights in the derelict house but the result was a failure.[17] He also persuaded Head to investigate the shrines at Lourdes in the summer of 1895.[16]

Feilding with W. W. Baggally exposed the materialization medium Christopher Chambers as a fraud in 1905. A false moustache was discovered in the séance room which he used to fabricate the spirit materialisations.[18] In 1911, Feilding attended two séance sittings with the medium Etta Wriedt. He suspected that the phenomena may have been fraudulent. He was "specifically excluded" from attending further séances with Wriedt.[19]

Publications[edit]

Books

  • Sittings with Eusapia Palladino and Other Studies (1963)

Papers

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kaczynski, Richard. (2010). Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley. North Atlantic Books. pp. 187–188. ISBN 978-1-55643-899-8
  2. ^ "Francis Henry Everard Feilding (1867–1936)". Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology.
  3. ^ Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad. Annual Report, 2005.
  4. ^ Forster, Edward Morgan. (2008). The Creator as Critic and Other Writings by E.M. Forster. Dundurn Group Ltd. p. 490. ISBN 978-1550025224
  5. ^ Churton, Tobias. (2011). Aleister Crowley: The Biography. Watkins Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-78028-384-5
  6. ^ Gliddon, Gerald. (2002). The Aristocracy and the Great War. Gliddon Books. p. 390. ISBN 978-0947893354 "The 9th Earl's brother, Francis (1867–1936), educated at Trinity College, Cambridge joined the Royal Navy and served as an officer in the RNVR with the Intelligence Division in Egypt and Palestine 1915–19. He was made an OBE (Mil) in 1919."
  7. ^ "Francis Henry Everard Feilding". Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
  8. ^ Dingwall, Eric. (1962). Very Peculiar People. University Books. p. 108
  9. ^ a b c d Frank Podmore. (1910). The Newer Spiritualism. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 114–44
  10. ^ Hansel, C. E. M. (1980). ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-Evaluation. Prometheus Books. pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-0879751197
  11. ^ Christopher, Milbourne. (1971). ESP, Seers & Psychics. Crowell. p. 201. ISBN 978-0690268157
  12. ^ Bullough, Vern L; Madigan, Timothy J. (1994). Toward a New Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz. Transaction Publishers. p. 159. ISBN 978-1560001188
  13. ^ Jeffares, A. Norman. (2001). W.B. Yeats: A New Biography. Continuum. p. 161. ISBN 0-8264-5524-7
  14. ^ a b c d Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. pp. 59–60. ISBN 1-57392-680-9
  15. ^ The Case of Abbé Vachère. Transactions of the Fourth International Congress for Psychical Research. Athens, 1930.
  16. ^ a b Jacyna, L. S. (2016). Medicine and Modernism: A Biography of Henry Head. Routledge. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-1-85196-907-4
  17. ^ Meynell, Everard. (1916). The Life of Francis Thompson. Burns & Oates. pp. 186–188
  18. ^ Wiseman, Richard. (1997). Deception & Self-Deception: Investigating Psychics. Prometheus Books. p. 23. ISBN 978-1573921213
  19. ^ Wolman, Benjamin. (1977). Handbook of Parapsychology. Van Nostrand. p. 314. ISBN 978-0442295769

Further reading[edit]

  • Ernest Bennett. (1936). In Memory of Everard Feilding. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 44: 5–6.
  • Shane Leslie. (1956). Everard Feilding's Case of a Bleeding Picture. In Ghost Book. Hollis & Carter.