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From the Casefiles of the Society for Psychical Research (1899)

Col. Philips Meadows Taylor, whose strange case was examined by the SPR.


Since its founding in 1882, the Society for Psychical Research has extensively studied everything from psychic abilities to run-of-the-mill hauntings, reporting their findings in a series of publications and journals, many of which have been preserved for future generations to discover and enjoy. Today, we will share with you some of the more interesting cases investigated by the SPR from the year 1899.


General Barter Sees a Bearded, Bloated Ghost

General Barter, commander of the British army, claimed to have had a ghostly encounter in India when he served as a subaltern in the Seventy-Fifth Regiment. In 1854, Barter was a lieutenant stationed in Punjab. He lived in a house built by a Lieutenant B___. Lieutenant B___ died on January 2, 1854, shortly after completing the construction. The house was located on a hill 300 or 400 yards under the only road, which was joined by a bridle path. This path ended in a dangerous precipice, and a footpath led up into it from the lieutenant's house.

One evening, Lt. Barter was visited by Mr. and Mrs. Deane. The couple started for home around 11 o'clock. The moon was full and Barter accompanied the couple to the bridle path. Barter, along with his two dogs, watched the Deanes depart and loitered for a few minutes finishing his cigar.

Just as he turned to go home he heard the sound of hooves coming down the bridle path. Above the foliage a tall hat came into view, and when it rounded a corner Barter could see the rider more clearly. The rider had a couple of native men as escorts. According to Barter, the two dogs crouched at his side and began whimpering in fright. He states:

"The moon was at the full, a tropical moon, so bright you could see to read a newspaper by its light, and I saw the party above me advance as plainly as if it were noonday; they were above me some eight to ten feet on the bridle road. The rider was in full dinner dress, with white waistcoat and tall chimney-pot hat, and he sat on a powerful hill pony (dark brown with black mane and tail) in a listless way, the reins hanging loosely from both hands. Grooms led the pony and supported the rider."  

Lieutenant Barter called out, "Quon hai? (Who is it?)". When no response came, he shouted out in English. "Hullo! What the devil do you want here?" At this, the group halted, the rider gathered up the reins with both hands and turned toward Barter. To Barter's shock, the face belonged to Lieutenant B___.

"It was a ghastly face, that of a corpse," wrote Barter, "and had the sort of beard known as a Newgate fringe." Barter rushed up the bank to the bridle path, only to find it empty. He recalled that Lieutenant B___ looked more bloated than he had remembered, and Barter did not remember the late lieutenant having a beard when he was alive.

The next day, Mr. Deane was talking to Barter and, speaking of the late Lieutenant B___, he told Barter that the late Lieutenant B___ had grown bloated as a result of his illness just before his death, and while on the sick list he had allowed his beard to grow.

General Barter's story was investigated by author, essayist and psychical researcher Andrew Lang, who vouched for its accuracy and truthfulness.


Boy's Spirit Seeks His Mother

Tom Potter was daring young Englishman who, in 1865, joined the crew of the British man-o'-war Doris. After a couple of voyages he ran away and came home to his widowed mother, poverty-stricken and half-starved. She roomed in a home owned by the H___ family. Tom was ill for quite some time, but when he recovered he was given another chance by the ship's captain. Tom Potter sailed for the West Indies and his mother remarried a man named Mr. Cooper and eventually moved out of the H___ family home.

Some weeks later a woman, whose name was Mary, took the room in the H___ home formerly occupied by Mrs. Potter. Mary had never met Mrs. Potter or Mr. Cooper prior to her arrival.

On the evening of September 8, 1866, someone rang the doorbell of the H___ home. Mary answered the door and briefly spoke to the man who had rang the bell. Although Mrs. H___ was in bed with an illness, she recognized the voice as that of Tom Potter. Mrs. H___ asked Mary who was at the door, and Mary replied that it was: "A little sailor boy. He wanted his mother. I told him I didn't know anything about his mother and sent him about his business. When I told him that he put up his hand to his forehead and said 'Oh, dear, what'll I do?'"

Mrs. H___ was convinced that young Tom had run away from his ship again. She sent her husband out to look for him, but no trace of Tom Potter could be found. A local priest who had once been Tom's schoolteacher claimed that he had received a letter from Tom only a short time before, stating that he was getting along fine. The priest questioned Mary about the visitor's identity. He showed Mary photographs of his former pupils; she immediately recognized the boy in one of the photographs. It was Tom Potter. She was positive that the boy in the picture was the one who had rand the bell of the H___ home on the night of September 8.

A month later a letter from the navy arrived, addressed to the priest. It read: "We write to you because we do not know the address of Tom Potter's mother," and went on to contain a description of Tom's sad fate. On July 24, he fell from the ship's masthead and was badly injured. A fever set in and Tom became delirious. He died on September 6, calling out for his mother.

The story was investigated by a paranormal investigator named Newton Crosland, of Blackheath, England, who found it to be credible and authentic.



Colonel Meadows Taylor Visited by the Ghost of a Living Lover

Colonel Philip Meadows Taylor, of the British army, also experienced a strange occurrence while stationed in India. His story was later authenticated by the Society for Psychical Research. Taylor writes:

"The determination to live single was the result of a strange incident that befell me on one of my marches to Hyderabad. I have never forgotten it, and it returns to this day to my memory with a strangely vivid effect that I can neither repel nor explain. I had been devoted to a girl at home and only relinquished hope of winning her when the terrible order came that no furlough would be granted."

Colonel Taylor was a captain when the incident took place. He continues:

"One evening I was at the village of Dewar Kudea, after a long afternoon and evening march from Muktal. I lay down weary, but the barking of village dogs, the baying of jackals and overfatigue and heat prevented sleep. I was wide awake and restless. Suddenly-- for my tent door was wide open-- I saw the face and figure so familiar to me, but looking older and white, and seemed covered with a profusion of lace, and glistened in the bright moonlight. The arms were stretched out and a low, plaintive cry, 'Do not let me go! Do not let me go!' reached me. I sprang forward, but the figure receded, growing fainter and fainter, till I could see it no longer. But the low, sad tones still sounded.

"I wrote to my father. I wished to know whether there was any hope for me. He wrote back to me these words: 'Too late, my dear son. On the very day of the vision you described to me, ___ was married.'"






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