Monck, Rev. Francis Ward (ca. 1878– )
British clergyman who started his career as minister of the
Baptist Chapel at Earls Barton, England, and gave up his ecclesiastical
vocation for professional mediumship. His adhesion to
Spiritualism was first announced in 1873. He claimed great
mediumistic powers, toured the British Isles, and healed the
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Monck, Rev. Francis Ward
sick in Ireland. As a result he was called ‘‘Dr.’’ Monck by many
people, although he was not a physician.
In London he convinced Alfred Russel Wallace, William
Stainton Moses, and Hensleigh Wedgwood (brother-in-law of
Charles Darwin) of his genuine psychic gifts by giving a remarkable
materialization séance in bright daylight. He also excelled
in slatewriting. An account by Wallace of a puzzling
slate-writing demonstration was certified by Edward T. Bennett,
then assistant secretary to the Society for Psychical Research,
London. He convinced Judge Dailey, an American,
that the dead returned through his body. Monck’s reputation
was high.
Disaster struck Monck in 1876 shortly after the trial of fellow
medium Henry Slade. At a Huddersfield séance on November
3, a conjurer named H. B. Lodge suddenly demanded a search
of the medium. Monck ran for safety, locked himself into his
room upstairs, and escaped through the window. As a further
evidence of his guilt, a pair of stuffed gloves was found in his
room. In the medium’s luggage were found ‘‘spirit lamps,’’ a
‘‘spirit bird,’’ cheesecloth, and reaching rods, as well as some
obscene correspondence from women.
There were other cases in which Monck was caught in flagrant
fraud. Sir William Barrett wrote of ‘‘a piece of white
muslin on a wire frame with a black thread attached being used
by the medium to simulate a partially materialised spirit.’’ The
trial that followed the Huddersfield exposure was a great sensation.
Wallace appeared as a witness for the defense and deposed
that ‘‘he had seen Dr. Monck in the trance state, when
there appeared a faint white patch on the left side of his coat,
which increased in density and spread till it reached his shoulder;
then there was a space gradually widening to six feet between
it and his body, it became very distinct and had the outline
of a woman in flowing white drapery. I was absolutely
certain that it could not be produced by any possible trick.’’
In spite of the eminent scientist’s vote of confidence, the
court found Monck guilty and sentenced him to three months’
imprisonment. The blow was a stunning one, but some friends
never lost their faith in Monck. There was no greater believer
in his powers than Archdeacon Thomas Colley, who reported
the most inexplicable and astounding experiences with Monck.
Colley was in India at the time of the Huddersfield incident.
After his return, he stoutly maintained that a dreadful miscarriage
of justice must have taken place, and he published this account
of a séance held on September 25, 1877 ‘‘Dr. Monck,
under control of Samuel, was by the light of the lamp—the writer
not being a yard away from him—seen by all to be the living
gate for the extrusion of spirit forms from the realm of mind
into this world of matter; for standing forth thus plainly before
us, the psychic or spirit form was seen to grow out of his left
side. First, several faces one after another, of great beauty appeared,
and in amazement we saw—and as I was standing close
up to the medium, even touching him, I saw most plainly—
several times, a perfect face and form of exquisite womanhood
partially issue from Dr. Monck, about the region of the heart.
Then after several attempts a full formed figure, in a nebulous
condition at first, but growing more solid as it issued from the
medium, left Dr. Monck, and stood a separate individuality,
two or three feet off, bound to him by a slender attachment as
of gossamer, which at my request Samuel, the control, severed
with the medium’s left hand, and there stood embodied a spirit
form of unutterable loveliness.’’
Colley was so sure of his own powers of observation that he
challenged stage magician John Nevil Maskelyne and offered
him 1,000 pounds if he could duplicate Monck’s materialization
performance. Maskelyne attempted the feat, and when
Colley declared his performance to be a travesty of what had
really taken place in Monck’s presence, Maskelyne sued for the
money. Mainly on the evidence of Wallace on behalf of Monck,
judgment was entered against Maskelyne.
In his materialization séances, Monck rarely used a cabinet.
He stood in full view of the sitters. Sometimes he was quite conscious.
He had two chief controls ‘‘Samuel’’ and ‘‘Mahedi.’’ For
a year their individual characters were deeply studied by Stainton
Moses and Hensleigh Wedgwood who, with two other men
interested in psychic research, secured exclusive rights to
Monck’s services for a modest salary.
Enduring evidence of Monck’s phantasmal appearances was
obtained by William Oxley in 1876 in Manchester in the form
of excellent paraffin molds of hands and feet of the materialized
forms (see plastics). Oxley described his psychic experiences
in Modern Messiahs and Wonder Workers (1889). Oxley’s experiences
tend to put aside the hallucination theory that
psychic researcher Frank Podmore proposed in view of Colley’s
astounding experiences.
In his lecture before the Church Congress at Weymouth in
1903, Colley said ‘‘Often when I have been sleeping in the
same bedroom with him, for the near observation of casual
phenomena during the night and, specially, that came through
the dark I, on such occasions, would hold my hand over his
mouth, and he would now and again be startled into wakefulness
not unmixed with fear. For he could see the phantoms
which I could not, when I had quietly put out the night-light—
for he would not sleep in the dark, which made him apprehensive
of phenomena, physically powerful to an extraordinary degree.’’
Colley claimed to have witnessed astonishing marvels with
Monck. He said he saw the birth and dissolution of numbers of
full-sized solid forms. He saw a child appear, move about, be
kissed by those present and then return to the medium and
gradually melt into his body. He seized a materialized form and
was flung with great force toward the medium and suddenly
found himself clasping him. In 1905, when he published his experiences,
he wrote ‘‘I publish these things for the first time,
having meditated over them in silence for twenty-eight years,
giving my word as clergyman for things which imperil my ecclesiastical
position and my future advancement.’’
One of the most astonishing psychic feats ascribed to Monck
was his teleportation from Bristol to Swindon, a distance of 42
miles. This claimed miraculous feat in 1871 was described in
the Spiritualist (1875, p. 55). In his later years, Monck concentrated
on healing. The closing period of his life was spent in
New York.
Oxley, William. Modern Messiahs and Wonder Workers. London
Trubner, 1889.