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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY

ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR

(1st Earl of Balfour), statesman, classical scholar; president, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1893; vice-president, 1882-92; 1895-1930. B. July 25, 1848, Whittinghame, East Lothian, Scotland; d. March 19, 1930, Fisher's Hill, Woking, Surrey, England. Educ. Eton; Trinity College, Cambridge (M.A.). Lord Balfour received honorary degress in law and philosophy from numerous British universities and from Columbia University in New York and Cracow University in Poland. Member of Parliament for Hertford, 1874-85; held a variety of government offices before becoming Prime Minister, 1902-05; First Lord of the Admiralty, 1915-16; Foreign Secretary, 19196-19. Fellow, Royal Society; president (1904), British Assn.

Lord Balfour, an early member of the SPR, was the brother of two of its most active members, Mrs. Henry Sidgwick adn Geral William Balfour (qq.v.). Although his public duties prevented him, through lack of time, from engaging in active psychical research, he made a close and critical study of the subject. Thirty years after his death unpublished records were made available showing that messages for Lord Balfour purporting to come from a former sweetheart, Mary Lyttelton, who had died in 1875, had been included in the scripts of several members of the famous "SPR group" of automatists, notably through the mediums Mrs. Holland and Mrs. Willet (qq.v.). Lord Balfour had a number of personal sittings with Mrs. Willet, and gradually came to the opinion that the communications were, in fact, from Mary Lyttelton.

The full report on these messages was first published in the SPR Proceedings, Vol. 52, Part 189, February, 1960. The report was compiled by the present Countess of Balfour. Balfour's publications include A Defence of Philosophic Doubt (1879); The Foundations of Belief (1895); Essays and Address (1903); Essays, Speculative and Political (1920); Theism and Thought (1923). His sole contribution to the SPR Proceedings was his presidential address (Vol.10, Part 26, 1894).

Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications


 
 

 

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