Morse, James Johnson

Morse, James Johnson (1848–1919)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Known as “the Bishop of Spiritualism,” J. J. Morse was a great trance speaker. He was born on October 1, 1848, in England. Orphaned at the age of ten, Morse had very little education and worked in a pub. E. W. Cox, Serjeant-at-Law, early psychical researcher and author of What Am I? A Popular Introduction to Mental Physiology and Psychology (London, 1874), wrote of Morse, “I have heard an uneducated barman, when in a state of trance, maintain a dialogue with a party of philosophers on Reason and Foreknowledge, Will and Fate, and hold his own against them. I have put to him the most difficult questions in psychology, and received answers always thoughtful, often full of wisdom, and invariably conveyed in choice and eloquent language. Nevertheless, in a quarter of an hour afterwards, when released from the trance, he was unable to answer the simplest query on a philosophical subject, and was at a loss for sufficient language in which to express a commonplace idea.”

In 1869, Morse started speaking in trance as the ancient Chinese philosopher Tien Sien Tie, who lived during the reign of the Emperor Kea-Tsing. Other spirits also spoke through Morse, including one humorous one known as “The Strolling Player.” Morse was also a physical medium. He demonstrated the fire test and also elongation—making himself taller than he normally was (see also Home, Daniel Dunglas).

Morse traveled to Australia and New Zealand. From 1901 to 1902 he published The Spiritual Review. He edited The Banner of Light in 1904, and beginning in 1906, he edited the British Two Worlds. Over the years, Morse gave more than 6,000 addresses on a wide variety of subjects. He helped form the British National Association of Spiritualists in Liverpool, which later became the London Spiritualist Alliance.

Morse’s daughter Florence was clairvoyant from childhood. She later became an inspirational speaker and traveled extensively, visiting America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Unlike her father, she was always fully conscious—never in trance—when speaking.


Awtry-Smith, Marilyn: “They” Paved the Way. New York: Spiritualism & More, nd
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978