THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY
JOHN WILLIAM STRUTT
(3rd Baron Rayleigh), physicists; president, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1919 B. November 12, 1842, Witham, Essex, England; d. June 30, 1919, Witham. Educ. Trinity College, Cambridge (fellow, 1866). M. 1871, Evelyn Balfour: 2 s. Proessor of experimental physics, Cambridge, 1879-84; secretary to the Royal Society, 1887-1905. Awarded Order of Merit, 1902; Nobel Prize for physics, 1904; fellow, Royal Society.
Lord Rayleight's achievements in physics included the development of systems of electrical measurement, theoretical development in acoustics, and the discovery of the gas argon. His interest in psychical research began in the early 1870's as the result of reading repors on investigations in the fieldl by Sir William Crookes (q.v.). He was particularly interested in "physical" phenomena, and had sittings with the American spiritualist Kate Fox, with the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (q.v.), and with many other so-called physical mediums. Many of the phenomena he witnessed he confessed himself unable to explain, although he was never sufficiently convinced to pronounce them positively genuine.
Lord Rayleigh had little interest in "mental" phenomena such as telepatchy and automatic writing, the genuineness of which he doubted, but he did state that, given irrefragable evidence for telepathy between from the dead. His books include The Theory of Sound (1877) and Collected Papers (1910). He was author of numerous scientific essays, reports, and papers and of the 1919 SPR presidential address (SPR Proceedings, Vol. 30, Part , 1918-19).
Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications