The Fox Sisters

Modern Spiritualism is generally considered to date from the events which occurred at Hydesville in New York State, USA, on March 31st 1848, when two sisters Margaretta and Catherine Fox established intelligent communication with a spirit entity which had been responsible for noisy rappings in the household.

The publicity which this aroused and the numerous investigations carried out at the time allowed mediumship to come out into the open once more and many home circles sprang up for the purpose of further communication. In a short space of time many societies of Spiritualists were formed in America, based not merely upon the psychic phenomena produced but also upon the religious implications which lay behind the teachings received from spirit through the new revelation.

Both the phenomena and the teachings attracted the attention of eminent scientists and intellectuals in America and (from 1852) Britain, to which Spiritualism was brought by Mrs Maria Hayden, who was both persecuted and insulted by the press and the pulpit. Despite all of this her mediumship was defended by many public figures, including Robert Owen, Socialist and one of the founders of the Co-operative Movement, who embraced Spiritualism after sittings with her, and many adherents were attracted to the cause. In 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established in the British Isles by David Richmond at Keighley in Yorkshire (still in use today), and the first Spiritualist newspaper in Britain, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, was published in 1855, also at Keighley. By the 1870s there were numerous Spiritualist societies and churches throughout the country.

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