Barbara McKenzie

Born Barbara Hendry on October 17, 1870 in Elgin, North Scotland. Principal of the British College for Psychic Science and editor of it's journal "Psychic Science". Wife of J. Hewat McKenzie, founder of the BCPS. James and Barbara had regular sittings in their special 'quite room' for meditation. Barbara was the medium, "and as she sat she became aware of various new influences operating on her receptive mind, which seemed distinct from her ordinary thoughts of which she had full control. Various personalities 'spoke' through her, giving evidence regarding matters of which she had no knowledge, but, illustrating the influence of the mind, they would very often answer questions on which her husband had been pondering, arising out of his intensive reading" (Hankey, J. Hewat McKenzie: Pioneer of Psychical Research). President of the Women's Adult School Movement. She became actively interested in politics and met many of the political leaders of the time through her position with the ASM.

The Retirement of "Miss Francis"

- Barbara McKenzie -

          THE ENFORCED retirement, for reasons of health, of one of the most valued mediums on the College staff, "Miss Francis," Miss Nina de Verthier, is a heavy blow to the work, for such sensitives are rare and their gift only reaches the stage of wide accepted general appreciation as the result of the most devoted attention to its care and development on their part. Miss de Verthier was one of the very early members of the College, and took full advantage of its courses of study and also attended a development class. She had at this time the faculty of receiving messages by means of the 'glass and letter' method. It was not till some years later that, after an illness which made a break in her work as a teacher of French, she made the important decision to undertake serious psychic development, and, if successful, to use this for the benefit of humanity. Mr. Hewat McKenzie, then Hon. Principal, gave her all the assistance he could by regular sittings, to induce the trance state, and 'Lucio,' her well-known guide, was soon able to use her with excellent results. She became a member of the College staff and during ten years has remained solely associated with the College. Her work has been exclusively for private sitters who found in 'Lucio' a wise friend, able to help them in their personal problems and also to guide them in deeper philosophical matters. The late Mr. G. R. S. Mead, of the Quest Society, had a special regard for 'Lucio's' erudition and enjoyed many conversations with him through the mediumship.

A gift, sincerely and carefully used under good conditions and with serious sitters, is bound to develop. Some time in 1930 I was with Miss Francis and noticed to my astonishment a most remarkable, and perfect as to shape and colouring, development in the region of her solar plexus. At the time she was not entranced, merely concentrated on the sensitivity of one of the pupils of her developing circle, a task which she undertook with great acceptance for a period.

I verified by continued observation that this psychic appearance related to her exclusively as she stood behind her pupil making some magnetic passes. When the test was over I asked whether she had been developing any new powers. Not that she was aware was the reply, but she felt her powers were now well established. I described the appearance, and later, sketched the form and colours I had seen, which I found coincided perfectly with the drawings of the solar plexus "centre" in C. W. Leadbeater's well-known book The Chakras, drawn from clairvoyant visions with sensitives. (I had not looked in this book for a considerable period and my experience of development in mental mediumship would not have led me to expect to see anything of the kind in this region.) I remarked at the time that it looked as if she was due for some new development of a very powerful kind, it might be on physical lines, though I felt that Miss Francis' inclinations did not lie in that direction. There the matter was left between ourselves, and as I was then leaving the College on Mrs. de Crespigny's taking office, I was a little out of touch with the medium for a time. But I was not surprised to hear, within a few months, that she had developed a fine gift for diagnosis under the guidance of the control 'Abduhl Latif' who had hitherto been associated with Eileen Garrett. At her request, when she had to leave for the States, 'Abduhl' agreed to see whether he could use Miss Francis to continue his medical work. Apparently he found her completely ready for him, for the work began in power almost at once, and I still think that months before, I saw the psychic organ ready for use. If this contact with 'Abduhl' had not been made, some other use for the developed centre would have been found. The power of diagnosis and healing has often been found in association with physical mediumship.

'Lucio' still remained the chief guide, and worked harmoniously with 'Abduhl,' recognizing that in his own particular line he was a Master.* More and more during the past few years 'Abduhl' was called upon and many healers began to bring groups of cases to him for diagnosis. I would not call him infallible, for conditions were not always perfect, but in a large majority of cases, simply from the reading of a letter, which often contained little or no information but only a cry for help, the trouble was pointed out and described with accuracy, and advice was given for treatment and was efficacious in hundreds of cases. Previous to the appearance of this 'control,' Miss Francis had no such gift. It was in such work that the medium became the focus of help to many lives, and if in doing it she has somewhat worn out a naturally delicate constitution, we need not be sorry for that. Nor is she herself, for there has been given her a work of the greatest uniqueness to do in the service of others, and who can ask for more!

* In Prediction for June there is an interesting article on Miss Francis and her control, Abduhl Latif.

But there is more work to be done. She requires a period of rest, which she is now taking at her home in the country and then hopes to do quiet work, without the strain of journeys to town and the regular demands which a Society must make upon its staff. She speaks with gratitude of the happiness of her years of work at the College, of the excellent conditions provided for her and of the many friends whom she has made among its members.

The medium's personality was most attractive to her sitters and greatly assisted her work and made for success. Of French birth, of good family and education, her charm and courteousness evoked a ready response from others. She has sometimes the gaiety of a child with a deep love of Nature and of simple pleasures, and again she has the seriousness of an old soul seeking wisdom among others. With such a natural gamut she has been able to meet the long stretch of human need which sought her help through her fine natural psychic powers, powers which always make use of all the resources the personality of the seer can provide.

The College Council has expressed to Miss Francis its high appreciation of her services and the steady loyal work she has given on its behalf. With such and many other good wishes surrounding her, we may hope that very soon her health may be completely restored.


The above article was taken from "Psychic Science", vol. XVII, No. 2, July 1938.

See also:

Biographies of other mediums

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