Area of Evidence 3: Helen Duncan Trial Witnesses Attesting to Her Materialization Mediumship
Helen Duncan was a twentieth-century British materialization medium. During one of her séances in 1941 a sailor came through, explaining he had perished when the HMS Barham was sunk. The British Admiralty, worried about public morale, had been keeping the incident secret. Some two years later, as D-Day approached, they wanted to prevent any further revelations. Duncan was arrested and tried under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. The Admiralty’s reaction to her knowledge demonstrated that they knew her statements were accurate.
Helen Duncan’s trial began on March 30, 1944. Twenty-two witnesses described the connections they had made during Duncan’s séances with loved ones in spirit. Following are links to brief transcripts of five sworn testimonies that the materializations were of people the witnesses knew well and that the materialized people were alive, articulate, and healthy. The witnesses told of seeing the materialized people close up, speaking about personal matters, touching, and even kissing them. They all swore under oath that they had an encounter with their loved ones.
James McDougal Duncan
James McDougal Duncan, a jeweler unrelated to Helen Duncan, testified under oath at her trial. He and his daughter had experiences and dialogue showing his materialized wife was alive although her body was dead. She exhibited all the physical, mental, and memory characteristics known to him and his daughter as she came near to them and her mental and sensory awareness when she referred to a trip to Canada the family had been discussing just prior to the séance.
Jane Mary Rust, a municipal midwife nurse, testified at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London during Duncan’s trial. She swore under oath that her reports of her experiences conversing with her deceased husband, mother, and aunt were true. As the materialized people came very near to her, touched her, and allowed her to touch them, they showed all the physical, mental, and memory characteristics of the people she knew. The link is to the transcript of testimony relevant to showing her loved ones were alive after their deaths. A narration of the text is included.
Alfred Dodd, a historian, senior Freemason, and acclaimed author of works on Shakespeare’s sonnets, testified at Helen Duncan’s trial that in her séances his grandfather, mother, and first sweetheart had materialized and spoken to him. He had experiences and dialogue showing the people who materialized were alive although their bodies were dead.
Herbert John Steabben, a well-known medium, lecturer, and healer who formed the Pathfinders Society, testified that he had witnessed materializations of his mother and a child he knew whose leg had been amputated. He had experiences and dialogue showing the people who materialized were alive although their bodies were dead.
Margaret Lyons had experiences and dialogue with her materialized father, showing he was alive although his body was dead. In his materialization he exhibited all his physical, mental, and memory characteristics, as he came very near to her and spoke with her and remarked that Margaret was currently a very good teacher, although he had transitioned when she was only thirteen.