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Helen DuncanSpiritualist Medium

Helen Duncan

Spiritualist Medium

Helen Duncan was the last woman to be tried and convicted in the United Kingdom for the crime of witchcraft (Section 4 of the Witchcraft Act of 1735). Born in Scotland in 1897, she grew up to be one of the most famous mediums of the twentieth century. She married at the age of twenty, had twelve pregnancies, with six surviving children. To help support her family she worked in the local bleach factory by day, and then conducted séances at night. She soon developed a budding reputation for her mediumship skills as she was able to produce ectoplasm during the séances. There are many accounts both for and against this ability.

Her demise began when during a séance in 1944. Her spirit guide Albert brought forth the spirit of a young sailor who was wearing a hat with the name HMS Barham on it. He explained that his ship had sunk during combat. The problem with this was, the spirit came through at 3:30 in the afternoon, and the HMS Barham had sunk at 1:30, only a mere two hours before. There was no way that any one could have had the details so fast or so accurate in that amount of time in 1944. This raised the question of security with the military that were planning the D-Day Invasion of Europe. Political paranoia was what brought Helen Duncan to the attention of the courts.

The police arrived at one of her séances and arrested her on vagrancy, the only charge they could think of at the time. They then raised that charge to fraud until one magistrate came up with an old law from 1735 charging her with witch craft. Although during the trial this was revised and re-instated as the more modern Fraudulent Mediums Act. They are still trying to clear her name to this day. Helen Duncan spent 9 months in jail on this charge. Winston Churchill himself a spiritual believer, wrote letters on Helen’s behalf, and spent considerable time visiting her during her incarceration. Upon her release she again went back to practising her mediumship skills when the police again rearrested her in 1956, which startled her, as she was in a deep trance during another séance. This was said to have left her weak and affected, as she suffered from diabetes and heart troubles. Many believe that this raid contributed to her death only 5 weeks later.

It is hard to believe that these kinds of charges were actually tried in court as little as fifty years ago.

Helen Duncan Spiritualist Medium

 

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