Piddington, John George

Piddington, John George (1869–1952)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

John George Smith was born in 1869. In 1890, he became a member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). To avoid confusion with other members named Smith, he changed his name to Piddington, his mother’s maiden name. He was Secretary of the SPR in London from 1899 to 1907, Ttreasurer from 1917 to 1921, and President from 1924 to 1925. He devoted his life to the cause of psychical research. He was a member of the SPR Council from 1899 to 1932.

In 1902, Piddington helped to create the SPR Research Endowment Fund, which enabled the society to have a full time, paid research officer. He visited the United States in 1905 and helped the organization of the American Society for Psychical Research as an independent society.

One of the most important roles played by Piddington was in interpreting the scripts of the “SPR Group” of automatic writers, who were involved in cross-correspondences. This also involved Sir Oliver Lodge, Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, Gerald W. Balfour (who became Earl after his brother’s death), and Alice Johnson. There were more than 3,000 scripts studied in depth. These have since been cited as evidence of survival. Piddington contributed a large number of articles to the SPR Proceedings. He died in April 1952.


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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