Webber, Jack (1907–1940)
Jack Webber was a prominent physical medium who in his
few years greatly impressed his fellow Spiritualists with his abilities.
Webber lacked formal education and had been a miner in
Wales who was brought to Spiritualism by his wife. He attended
a home circle and discovered his own mediumistic abilities.
He acquired several spirit controls, the most famous being an
Irish spirit named Paddy. He began with table tipping and
soon afterwards experienced the levitation of objects, including
the famous trumpets which spirits reportedly used as a
megaphone-like device. He also became a healer. As he developed,
those attending his seances reported hearing spirit
voices, both coming through the trumpets and independent of
them. They also saw objects move and levitate.
Through the 1930s Webber traveled at an increasing pace
and during the last two years of the decade was widely heralded
in the Spiritualist press for the phenomena he produced. While
not formally investigated, he was the object of attention of several
skeptical journalists who reported favorably on what they
had witnessed. He worked in a darkened room, but without a
cabinet. He was frequently tied to his chair with wire. Among
his more spectacular feats was the production of ectoplasm in
the form of light rods that were used to levitate objects and the
movement of objects from distant places ostensibly through
solid walls. At one point a recording was made of Paddy and of
a second spirit guide singing a duet.
While Webber was touted in the Spiritualist press and many
leading Spiritualists from Maurice Barbanell to Harry Edwards
voiced their support of his work, skeptics accused him
of fraud, and today most, even in the larger psychic community,
would deny that the abilities Webber reportedly demonstrated
exist. Though never exposed as a fraud, his career has to be
seen in the light of the many mediums caught in fraud doing
exactly the same acts attributed to Webber.
Webber died in 1940 at the age of 33. Within weeks, various
mediums, including Bertha Harris and Harold Evans, reported
that they had heard from him from the spirit world. Harry
Edwards penned his biography.
Sources
Barbanell, Maurice. This Is Spiritualism. London Spiritualist
Press, 1959.
Edwards, Harry. The Mediumship of Jack Webber. London
Rider & Co., 1940.