powerful medium, discovered by Dr.
Alfred Russel Wallace in his sister's, Mrs. Sim's, house about a year after he started his investigation into Spiritualism in 1865. The young girl, a professional mesmerist, produced movements without contact. The power was the strongest if the two ladies were alone. Remarkable phenomena were observed after the
sťance in the empty room. The famous naturalist learned that Miss Nichol saw phantoms as a child and, in carefully watching her mediumistic development, encountered strange experiences. Raps and table movements were followed by levitations.
The medium was a heavily built woman. In the darkness, while holding the sitters' hands, she was several times lifted on top of the table in her chair. Independent music and apport phenomena came next. On hundreds of occasions flowers and fruits, sometimes in vast quantities, were precipitated, on the
sťance table, from an unknown source. The request of the sitters was often honoured. When a friend of Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace asked for a sunflower one six feet high with a mass of earth around the roots fell upon the table. In
Serjeant Cox's house a mass of snow and hothouse flowers were precipitated. It was sufficient to make a mental request. The Princess Marguerite at Naples desired specimens of a prickly cactus. More than twenty dropped on the table and had to be removed with tongs. Stinging nettles and ill-smelling white flowers which had to be burnt, also arrived on other occasions. The Duchess d'Arpino wished for sea sand. It soon splashed down with sea water and live star fishes. The sea was about a hundred yards from the house. Not infrequently live eels and lobsters were brought. Later the apports arrived in light, provided a dark space was available to deposit them.
Catherine Berry, in Experiences in Spiritualism, speaks of many strange happenings. A white cat and a Maltese dog of Mrs. Guppy appeared in a
sťance in Mrs. Berry's house where Mrs. Guppy sat. Three ducks prepared for cooking were brought into the circle in Mrs. Guppy's home. Showers of butterflies descended from the ceiling. On another occasion a shower of feathers fell to the depth of several inches. In a mischievous spirit Mrs. Guppy asked for tar, whereupon Mrs. Berry, looking like a magpie in her black dress, rushed out and became estranged for years from her host.
Miss Nichol married Samuel Guppy in 1867. For some time after they resided on the Continent. More marvels were witnessed on their return. The first spirit photograph of Hudson was obtained in March, 1872, through Mrs. Guppy's mediumship. In the same year she produced materialisations.
The most marvellous incident in her career was her own transportation from her house at Highbury to 61 Lamb's Conduit Street, a distance of three miles.
Frank Herne and Charles
Williams, with eight sitters, were holding a
sťance. On a half-humorous request of Mr. Harrison Mrs. Guppy, half undressed, with her shoes off, was precipitated in a state of deep trance, on the table.
Samuel Guppy was a very rich man. The complete absence of financial motives greatly puzzled
Frank Podmore, author of Modern
Spiritualism, who considered every medium a fraud, out for financial gain. He writes:
"But Mrs. Guppy, even during the few months in which, as Miss Nichol, she practised as a professional Mesmerist, can scarcely have found her main incentive in the hope of gain. On the assumption of fraud, the mere cost of the flowers lavished on her sitters must have swallowed up any probable profit from her increased mesmeric clientele. And even such a motive would have ceased with her marriage."
After Samuel Guppy's death his widow married for the third time and was known as Mrs. Guppy-VoIckman afterwards. She died in December, 1917.
Source (with minor modifications):
An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).