Findlay, James Arthur

Findlay, James Arthur (1883–1966)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Findlay was one of the most respected modern leaders of British Spiritualism. He was born on May 16, 1883, in Glasgow, Scotland. In his autobiography, Findlay wrote, “[My birth] happened without my being aware of the fact and, moreover, my consent was not asked beforehand. It occurred without any desire on my part.” His father, Robert Downie Findlay, was a stockbroker and then an officer in the First Lanark Volunteers army reservists. His mother was Margaret (Galloway) Findlay.

As a child, Findlay traveled extensively with his parents. He had a private tutor and later attended the Albany Academy for a year. In 1895, he went to Ardvreck School at Crieff in Perthshire. At fourteen, Findlay went to Fettes College in Edinburgh, and two years later completed his education at Abbotsholme in Derbyshire.

Findlay became involved in a wide variety of enterprises including agriculture, finance, the British Red Cross, and psychical research. In 1913, he married Gertrude Walker and received the Order of the British Empire in 1919 for his organizational work with the Red Cross during World War I.

In 1918, Findlay found a Spiritualist church in Glasgow and attended a service. He attended a séance being given by direct voice medium John Campbell Sloan soon after. Findlay received evidential messages from his deceased father and another man. The messages were of a very personal nature and contained information known only to Findlay. During the next five years, Findlay attended thirty-nine séances with Sloan, sometimes at the medium’s home and sometimes at places of Findlay’s choosing. Over the course of these séances eighty-three separate and distinct voices spoke. Findlay gave full details of these sittings in his book On the Edge of the Etheric (1931).

Findlay retired from business life at age 40 to devote himself to psychical research. In 1920, he founded and was Vice President of the Glasgow Society for Psychical Research. He also founded the Quest Club and The International Institute for Psychical Research, of which he was Chairman, and held office in a number of other institutions. In February of 1925, Findlay moved from Scotland to Stansted Hall in Essex, England, a stately home dating from the late sixteenth century. During World War II, Findlay was displaced from Stansted Hall when it was commandeered by the Red Cross for use as a hospital for American troops. It was not until October 1945 that he was able to return to his home. When Findlay died in 1966, he left Stansted Hall to the Spiritualists’ National Union. It is now the home of the Arthur J. Findlay College.

Findlay wrote a number of books on psychic research, including An Investigation of Psychic Phenomena (1924), On the Edge of the Etheric (1931), The Rock of Truth (1933), The Unfolding Universe (1935), The Psychic Stream (1939), The Way of Life (1956), and The Curse of Ignorance (1956). He also wrote on finance and economics.


Findlay, Arthur: Looking Back. Stansted: Spiritualists’ National Union, 1955
Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
First World War see World Wars
Firth, Violet Mary see Fortune, Dion
Fish, Leah see Fox Family
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