Hayden, Maria B. (ca. 1852)
Influential American medium of Boston and wife of W. R.
Hayden, editor of the Star Spangled Banner. Maria Hayden was
the first American medium to visit England after the beginnings
of modern Spiritualism in the United States, and subsequently
had a great influence on the development of the Spiritualist
movement. She arrived in England in October 1852 in
the company of a man named Stone, who professed to be a lecturer
on ‘‘electro-biology,’’ the art of inducing hypnotism by
gazing at metallic disks.
Hayden was an educated woman and possessed a limited
type of mediumship consisting mainly of raps; however, they
furnished information beyond the knowledge of the sitters. In
the British press she was treated as an American adventuress.
The magazine Household Words was the first to ridicule her.
Blackwood’s Magazine, The National Miscellany, and other papers
followed. Many disclosures were published claiming that the
medium could not give correct answers unless she saw the alphabet.
The first man who confessed he was puzzled and unable to
account for the phenomena was Robert Chambers. He describes
his visit to Hayden in an unsigned article in Chamber’s
Journal on May 21, 1853, and admitted to having witnessed correct
information when the alphabet was behind the medium’s
back. The Critic was the next to call attention to the inadequacy
of the theory put forward by the skeptics. A Dr. Ashburner, one
of the royal physicians, came forward for the defense and so did
Sir Charles Isham. Other people of importance admitted that
the phenomena were worthy of serious investigation, although
they were unwilling to commit themselves.
Hayden’s most important conquest was the conversion to
Spiritualism of Augustus de Morgan, the famous mathematician
and philosopher. The book by Mrs. de Morgan From Matter
to Spirit (1863, first edition anonymous), the preface of which
was written by her husband, gives a detailed account of Hayden’s
séances. Additional notes were published in Mrs. de Morgan’s
Memoir of Augustus de Morgan (1882).
The veteran socialist Robert Owen, age 83 at the time, also
had several sittings. As a result he boldly embraced Spiritualism
and proclaimed in the Rational Quarterly Review a formal profession
of his new faith. The publication of the first English periodical
on Spiritualism dates from Hayden’s visit. The publisher
was W. R. Hayden, who joined his wife in England, and the
periodical was titled The Spirit World. The first and last issue appeared
in May 1853.
After a year’s stay in England Maria Hayden returned to the
United States, graduated as a doctor of medicine, and practiced
for 15 years with such remarkable healing powers that
James Rhodes Buchanan, the famous pioneer in psychometry,
declared her to be ‘‘one of the most skillful and successful
physicians I have ever known.’’ She was later offered a medical
professorship in an American college.
The great medium D. D. Home gave one of his first public
séances at the Haydens’ home in March 1851. It is possible that
Hayden’s mediumship dated from that visit.
De Morgan, Augustus. A Budget of Paradoxes. Chicago Open
Court Publishing, 1915. Reprinted as The Encyclopedia of Eccentrics.
La Salle, Ill. Open Court Publishing, 1974.

Previous articleHod
Next articleHollow Earth