Lees, Robert James (ca. 1849–ca. 1931)
British clairvoyant and pensioner of the Privy Purse who was
often received at Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria. He
was also the subject of a hoax concerning the infamous Jack the
Ripper case. An article was published in the London Daily Express
March 9, 1931, shortly after Lees’ death, claiming that
Lees rendered great service to the English police. Lees, it was
claimed, had unaccountable premonitions of the crimes the
Ripper was going to commit. In a vision Lees saw the victim and
the place. He communicated his descriptions to the police, and
later findings corroborated the details in the vision. When the
visions continued to reoccur, the police asked Lees to track
down the murderer. Much in the same way as a bloodhound
pursues a criminal, Lees set out in a state of trance, followed by
an inspector and detectives. While on the trail, at four o’clock
in the morning Lees halted at the gates of a West End mansion
where a prominent physician was living and, pointing to an
upper chamber where a faint light gleamed, declared ‘‘There
is the murderer.’’ It was reported that the physician later confessed
that he was subject to fits of obsession in which he committed
acts of fiendish cruelty. Evidence consistent with victims
of the Ripper was found in his rooms, and on the recommendations
of a medical committee, he was confined to an insane asylum.
Later it was learned that this story stemmed from a journalistic
hoax reported in the Chicago Sunday-Times Herald April
28, 1895, which reported that Lees had a vision of one of the
killings prior to its occurrence.
During his life, Lees was best known for his healing work,
his controls often diagnosing disease and effecting remarkable,
instantaneous cures. Lees also published several books that he
claimed were inspired psychically. He wrote a posthumous
manuscript that is supposedly the autobiography of a soul in
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Lees, Robert J. The Car of Phoebus An Astral Bridegroom. N.p.,
———. The Gate of Heaven. N.p., n.d.
———. The Heretic. N.p., 1901.
———. The Life Elysian. N.p., 1905.
———. ‘‘My Books How They Were Written.’’ Occult Review
(December 1931).
———. Through the Mists. London W. Rider & Sons Ltd.,
Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit Gale Research,