Marshall, Mary (1842–1884)
The first British professional medium, through whom both
Sir William Crookes and Alfred Russel Wallace obtained
their introduction to the phenomena of Spiritualism. Her
manifestations consisted of raps, movements, and levitations
of the table, knotting handkerchiefs under the table-leaf, and
writing on glass. This latter appears to have been a rudimentary
form of slate-writing, with which she later confronted her
sitters. The first account of this demonstration was published
by Thomas Barkas in Outlines of Ten Years’ Investigations into the
Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism (1862).
On a small scale, Marshall exhibited most of the phenomena
of later mediums. From 1867 she held sittings for direct
voice in which ‘‘John King’’ manifested. In her first séances
she was assisted by her niece and occasionally by her young son.
Her husband developed drawing mediumship.
A writer in the journal All the Year Round (July 28, 1860)
characterized her performance as a ‘‘dull and barefaced imposition,’’
but Robert Bell, the celebrated dramatist, writing in the
Cornhill magazine, was satisfied that the phenomena were genuine
spirit manifestations.
Sources
Barkas, Thomas P. Outlines of Ten Years’ Investigations into the
Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism. London, 1862.