Francis Ward Monck

          A BRITISH clergyman who started his career as minister of the Baptist Chapel at Earls Barton and gave up his ecclesiastical vocation for professional mediumship. His adhesion to spiritualism was first announced in 1873. He claimed great mediumistic powers, toured the British Isles and healed the sick in Ireland. As a result he was called Dr. Monck by many.

In London he convinced Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, Stainton Moses and Hensleigh Wedgwood, the brother-in-law of Darwin, of his genuine psychic gifts by giving a remarkable materialisation sťance in bright daylight. He also excelled in slate writing. An account by Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace of a puzzling slate writing demonstration was certified by Edward T. Bennett, the assistant secretary to the SPR. He convinced Judge Dailey, of America, that the dead returned through his body. His reputation was rising.

A blow fell, however, shortly after the Henry Slade trial. At Huddersfield on November 3, 1876, a conjurer, named Lodge, suddenly demanded the search of the medium. Monck ran for safety, locked himself into his room upstairs and escaped through the window. As a further evidence of his guilt a pair of stuffed gloves was found in his room. Nor was this the first case when he was flagrantly caught. Sir William Barrett wrote of "a piece of white muslin on a wire frame with a black thread attached being used by the medium to simulate a partially materialised spirit." The trial which followed the Huddersfield exposure was a great sensation. One of the witnesses was Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. He deposed that:

"he had seen Dr. Monck in the trance state, when there appeared a faint white patch on the left side of his coat, which increased in density and spread till it reached his shoulder; then there was a space gradually widening to six feet between it and his body, it became very distinct and had the outline of a woman in flowing white drapery. I was absolutely certain that it could not be produced by any possible trick."

The court found Monck guilty and sentenced him to three months' imprisonment.

The blow was a stunning one. There were, however, friends who did not give up their faith in Monck. There was no greater believer in his powers than Archdeacon Colley and nobody had more inexplicable and astounding experiences than he. He was in India when the Huddersfield incident happened. After his return he stoutly maintained that a dreadful miscarriage of justice must have taken place. Of a sťance held on September 25, 1877, on the basis of notes made the same evening, he published the following account:

"Dr. Monck, under control of Samuel, was by the light of the lamp - the writer not being a yard away from him - seen by all to be the living gate for the extrusion of spirit forms from the realm of mind into this world of matter; for standing forth thus plainly before us, the psychic or spirit form was seen to grow out of his left side. First, several faces one after another, of great beauty appeared, and in amazement we saw - and as I was standing close up to the medium, even touching him, I saw most plainly - several times, a perfect face and form of exquisite womanhood partially issue from Dr. Monck, about the region of the heart. Then after several attempts a full formed figure, in a nebulous condition at first, but growing more solid as it issued from the medium, left Dr. Monck, and stood a separate individuality, two or three feet off, bound to him by a slender attachment as of gossamer, which at my request Samuel, the control, severed with the medium's left hand, and there stood embodied a spirit form of unutterable loveliness, robed in attire spirit-spun - a meshy webwork from no mortal loom, of a fleeciness inimitable, and of transfiguration whiteness truly glistening."

He was so sure of his own powers of observation that he challenged J. N. Maskelyne and offered him a thousand pounds if he could duplicate Monck's materialisation performance. Maskelyne attempted the feat and when Archdeacon Colley declared his performance to be a travesty of what was really taking place in Monck's presence Maskelyne sued for the money. Mainly on the evidence of Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, on behalf of Monck, judgment was entered against Maskelyne.

In his materialisation sťances Monck rarely used a cabinet. He stood in full view of the sitters. Sometimes he was quite conscious. He had two chief controls: Samuel and Mahedi. For a year their individual character was deeply studied by Stainton Moses and Wedgwood who, with two other men interested in psychic research, secured Monck's services with exclusive rights for a modest salary.

Enduring evidence of his phantasmal appearances was obtained by William Oxley in 1876 in Manchester in the form of excellent paraffin moulds of hands and feet of the materialised forms. This disposes of the hallucination theory which Frank Podmore put forward in view of Archdeacon Colley's astounding experiences. Paraffin cannot be hallucinated. The supposition in itself is difficult that Monck could have played the fool with an intimate friend for many years. In his lecture before the Church Congress at Weymouth in 1903 Archdeacon Colley said:

"Often when I have been sleeping in the same bedroom with him, for the near observation of casual phenomena during the night and, specially, that came through the dark I, on such occasions, would hold my hand over his mouth, and he would now and again he startled into wakefulness not unmixed with fear. For he could see the phantoms which I could not, when I had quietly put out the night-light - for he would not sleep in the dark, which made him apprehensive of phenomena, physically powerful to an extraordinary degree."

The Archdeacon's experiences present an unsurpassed record in the history of materialisation. None has ever witnessed such wonders before. He saw the birth and dissolution of numbers of full-sized solid forms. He saw a child appear, move about, being kissed by those present and then return to the medium and gradually melt into his body. He seized a materialised form and was flung with great force towards the medium and suddenly found himself clasping him. In 1905 when he published his experiences he wrote:

"I publish these things for the first time, having meditated over them in silence for twenty-eight years, giving my word as clergyman for things which imperil my ecclesiastical position and my future advancement."

In his later years Monck concentrated on healing. The closing period of his life was spent in New York.

Source (with minor modifications): An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).



Some parts of this page The International Survivalist Society 2004