Fletcher, John William (1852–1913)
American clairvoyant and trance medium. His mother possessed
the gift of second sight. As a boy he was a puzzle to his
teachers; instead of the lesson he would recite a paper presented
to him in a vision. When barely 17 he was known and
sought out as a trance speaker.
As a young man he married Susie Willis, who was a clairvoyant
and had been a public lecturer since age 15. In 1873 both
embarked on professional mediumship at the Lake Pleasant
camp meeting. Fletcher’s control was an Indian girl, ‘‘Winona,’’
and some of her sitters claimed to have seen her materialized.
In 1877 Fletcher visited London. Because of the Henry
Slade trial, American mediums were not popular there at the
time. At James Burns’s Spiritual Institution he was coldly reFlat
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ceived. Although The Spiritualist newspaper never ceased to attack
him, Fletcher continued his tour and gave test sittings at
the house of Agnes Guppy-Volckman, at the British National
Association of Spiritualists, and at the Dalston Association. In
Cavendish Rooms and in Steinway Hall he delivered many
platform addresses on the religion and philosophy of Spiritualism
and instituted Sunday class meetings on the plan of the
Children’s Lyceums of America.
In 1881 the Fletchers were overtaken by disaster. Mrs.
Fletcher was sentenced to 12 months’ hard labor for obtaining,
by undue influence, the property of Mrs. Hart Davies. Her defense
was that she was sheltering the woman, who appealed to
her for refuge and protection, and only reluctantly consented
to take charge of her property as long as Davies desired it, since
she and her husband were paying Davies’s expenses while she
stayed in their home. At the time of his wife’s trial Fletcher was
addressing an audience of three thousand in Boston. He never
went back to England, fearing the same fate that befell his wife.
In his later years Fletcher practiced as a palmist in New
York. In June 1913 the police made a sudden raid with a warrant
for his arrest. He collapsed and died from heart failure.
Sources
Gay, Susan E. John William Fletcher, Clairvoyant. London,
1883.
Marryat, Florence. There is No Death. New York John W.
Lovell, 1891. Reprint, New York Causeway Books, 1973.