Pelham, George

Pelham, George (1860–1892)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

“George Pelham” was the pseudonym of George Pellew, a lawyer and writer and a friend of Dr. Richard Hodgson, the psychical researcher. Pelham and Hodgson had many arguments on the possibility of spirit survival after bodily death. Pelham said it was “improbable if not inconceivable.” Hodgson countered by saying that if not probable it was at least conceivable. In February 1892, Pelham fell from his horse and died. He had promised Hodgson that if he should die first he would return to “make things lively” for his friend.

On March 22, 1892, at one of Leonore Piper’s automatic writing séances, Pelham returned. Mrs. Piper had a number of different spirit guides at various stages of her lengthy mediumistic career. The original was Dr. Phinuit. According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “Dr. Hodgson, who had been among the most severe critics of all transcendental explanations (of mediumship), was gradually forced to accept the spiritual hypothesis as the only one that covered the facts. He found that telepathy from sitter to medium would not do so.” The spirit of George Pelham came and took over from Dr. Phinuit as Leonore Piper’s main guide. Doyle said, “It was no unusual thing for Phinuit to be talking and Pelham to be writing at the same moment.”

Pelham’s identity was established by the fact that, over a period of time, he spoke to thirty different old friends of his of whom Piper had no knowledge, and they fully recognized his tone and manner. In turn, the spirit knew them and all about them. Doyle reported, “Never once did he mistake a stranger for a friend. It is difficult to imagine how continuity of individuality and power of communication—the two essentials of Spiritualism—could be more clearly established than by such a record.”

Pelham came through Mrs. Piper from 1892 until 1898. He then began to communicate more rarely. His explanation was that he was advancing and thereby moving farther away. He finally stopped communicating altogether.


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
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