Goodrich-Freer, Ada (1857–1931)
Pioneer psychical researcher who wrote under the pseudonym
‘‘Miss X.’’ Goodrich-Freer was born May 15, 1857, in
Rutland, England. Mystery surrounds much of her life and parentage,
and she appears to have been responsible for the deliberate
clouding of many details, probably to impress influential
patrons and associates. However, she was also noted for useful
research and for her valuable editorial association with W. T.
Stead, with whom she coedited the magazine Borderland. In
1905 she married the Reverend Hans H. Spoer, although continuing
to be known professionally as ‘‘Miss Freer’’ or ‘‘Miss
She was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research
in Britain and an associate of F. W. H. Myers, one of
its founders. She was also a member of the Folklore Society. Between
1918 and 1920 she was assistant to her husband, who was
then district commander under the Allied high commissioner
in Armenia.
In addition to her collaboration with Stead on Borderland,
Goodrich-Freer wrote a variety of articles for different journals
in folklore and in psychical research, most of which appeared
under the pseudonym ‘‘Miss X.’’
In 1897 Goodrich-Freer became involved in an investigation
of a haunting at Bellechin. The affair turned into a fiasco,
and she and Myers had a heated quarrel that led to a permanent
break in relations. The period proved critical for her,
since her employment with Stead at Borderland ended and
three years later her patron, Lord Bute, died. In 1901 she left
England for Palestine and eventually settled in the United
States. She dropped out of psychical research during this period,
though she wrote a number of books on her travels in the
Middle East. She died in New York on February 24, 1931.
History has not treated Goodrich-Freer kindly. John L.
Campbell and Trevor H. Hall, who looked over the body of
material she left, accused her of a lifetime of falsification and
deception, the pseudonym being only a small part of the ruse.
She regularly plagiarized from others in her publications, said
Campbell and Hall, and was accused of using fraud in her sittings.
Campbell, John L., and Trevor H. Hall. Strange Things. London
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968.
Goodrich-Freer, Ada. Arabs in Tent and Town. London Seeley,
Service, & Co. Int., 1924.
———. Essays in Psychical Research. 2nd ed., London G. Redway,
———. Inner Jerusalem. New York E. P. Dutton, 1904.
———. Outer Isles. London A. Constable, 1902.
———, and John, Marquess of Bute. The Alleged Haunting of
B. House. London G. Redway, 1899.

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