Piddington, J(ohn) G(eorge) (1869–1952)
Officer of the Society for Psychical Research, London. He
served successively as a member of council (1899–1932), secretary
(1899–1907), treasurer (1917–21) and president
(1924–25). He was born J. G. Smith in 1869, but he took his
mother’s family name in order to avoid confusion with other
leading members of the Society for Psychical Research. He
joined the SPR in 1890 and subsequently devoted the rest of his
life to the cause of psychical research. He helped to create the
SPR research endowment fund in 1902, which enabled the Society
to have a full-time paid research officer. In 1905 Piddington
visited the United States and assisted in the organization
of the American branch of the SPR as an independent society.
In the field of psychical research, he worked with Eleanor
Sidgwick, G. W. Balfour, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Alice Johnson
in interpreting the scripts of the ‘‘SPR group’’ of automatic
writers concerned with cross correspondence. The SPR group
of mediums consisted of Margaret Verrall, Helen Verrall,
Leonora Piper, Winifred Coombe-Tenant (usually identified
in the literature as Mrs. Willett), Alice Fleming (Mrs. Holland),
Dame Edith Lyttelton (Mrs. King), and Mrs. Stuart Wilson.
There were over three thousand of these scripts, which became
fully meaningful when correctly juxtaposed. These cross correspondences
have been cited as among the very best evidence
of individual survival of death.
Piddington’s presidential address in 1924 was directed to
the issue then dividing psychical research the strict standards
of investigation and reporting on the observation of mediums.
The issue divided the American Society for Psychical Research
in 1925 and would lead to the resignation of Spiritualist believer
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the SPR. Piddington died in
April 1952.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Gauld, Alan. The Founders of Psychical Research. New York
Schrocken Books, 1968.
Piddington, John George. ‘‘Cross Correspondences of a
Gallic Type.’’ Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research
29, 72 (1916).
———. ‘‘Presidential Address.’’ Proceedings of the Society for
Psychical Research 34, 89 (1924).
Pickering, Edward Charles Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
1210
———. ‘‘A Reply to Sir Oliver Lodge’s Note.’’ Proceedings of
the Society for Psychical Research 30, 77 (1918).
———. ‘‘A Series of Concordant Automatisms.’’ Proceedings
of the Society for Psychical Research 22, 57 (1908).
Piddington, John George, and Eleanor Sidgwick. ‘‘Note on
Mrs. Piper’s Hodgson-Control in England.’’ Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research 23, 58 (1909).
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.
Salter, W. H. ‘‘J. G. Piddington and His Work on the CrossCorrespondence
‘Scripts.’ ’’ Journal of the Society for Psychical
Research 36 (1952).