McKenzie, James Hewat (1869–1929)
Founder of the British College of Psychic Science. McKenzie
was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 11, 1869. He
began the study of the paranormal in 1900 as a result of his dissatisfaction
with the failure of science or theology to throw any
light on human destiny. Years of private study and investigation
followed. The fruit of this period of research was a series
of lectures in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow (1915), a book,
Spirit Intercourse Its Theory and Practice (1916), and a pamphlet
If a Soldier Die (1916), which had a wide circulation. In 1917 he
toured the eastern United States and the Midwest as far as Chicago
in search of mediums. After spending a good deal of time
in California, he returned home in 1920.
McKenzie raised money to found the British College of Psychic
Science in 1920. He started Psychic Science, the college’s
quarterly journal, two years later. In the same year he and his
wife, Barbara, who collaborated in all his investigations, visited
Germany, Austria, and Poland and had sittings with many of
the best psychics on the Continent. In Warsaw they sat with the
materializing medium Franek Kluski and secured plaster casts
of materialized hands, which they brought to London. These
casts were the only ones in England at the time. They also
brought Maria Silbert of Graz, Austria, and a poltergeist medium
to the college for experimental work. A devoted Spiritualist,
McKenzie had no scientific training. Characterized by a
strong, assertive personality, he was known to cover up evidence
of fraud when he discovered it.
McKenzie had a deep interest in physical mediumship in all
its aspects and a profound knowledge of the conditions necessary
for good results. On many occasions he was asked to investigate
cases of hauntings and disturbances and was able to clear
up annoying conditions. He also made an intensive study of
trance mediumship with Gladys Osborne Leonard and Eileen
Garrett and assisted in the development of the psychic talents
of several other trance mediums. He was convinced that only
through psychic ‘‘facts’’ was there any proved knowledge of
survival, a belief he affirmed continuously in his writings and
lectures. During the years in which he acted as honorary president
of the college, it was the first substantial organization in
London to become a center for psychic demonstration and instruction.
McKenzie died August 29, 1929, in London. Barbara McKenzie,
who also brought a fine intellect and understanding to
the study of psychic phenomena, was honorary secretary of the
college until 1929, and then became honorary president for
one year, being succeeded by Rose Champion de Crespigny.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Hankey, Muriel. J. Hewat McKenzie Pioneer of Psychical Research.
London Aquarian Press, 1963.s

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