Annie Fairlamb Mellon
(ca. 1850-ca. 1938)
British materialization medium. Her first supernormal experience was at the age of nine, when she saw her brother at sea in danger of drowning. Later physical powers manifested in a violent trembling of hand and arm. This was followed, in the family circle, by automatic writing with lightning-like speed, by clairvoyance, and by clairaudiance. With bandaged eyes she would fall into a trance and describe events happening at the time many miles away, events which were subsequently verified.
In 1873 she and C.E.Wood were employed as official mediums of the Newcastle Spiritual Evidence Society. In 1875 they sat for Henry Sidgwick and F. W. H. Myers of the Society for physical Research at Cambridge, England. The séances, which were held under the strictest test conditions, produced excellent results, but neither Sidgwick nor Myers chose to announce their observations in public.
In 1877 Alderman T. P. Barkas of Newcastle made successful experiments to obtain spirit molds (see plastics). Unknown to Fairlamb, he mixed magenta dye with the parffin. The molds were found to be tinted with magenta, which proved that they were not smuggled in ready-made.
After touring the Continent, during which German investigators found that she lost almost half of her bodily weight during materializations, Fairlamb went to Australia. There she married J. B. Mellon of Sydney but continued to give sittings at her own home. Charles W. MacCarthy, at whose residence Mellon often sat, became convinced of the reality of the phenomena.
On October 12, 1894, a disastrous exposure of her fraud took place in Mellon's house. T. Shekleton Henry, another medium and pretended friend, grabbed "Cissie," the materialized spirit, and found it to be the medium half undressed. The missing pieces of garment were found in the cabinet. Mellon defended herself by saying that she seemed to shoot into the grabbed form and became absorbed. She was said to have suffered serious injury in consequence of the spirit grabbing, and after her recovery she resolved never to sit in the cabinet again but always before the curtain in full view of the sitters.
The story of the exposure is told by T. Shekleton Henry in Spookland (1902), to which a rebuttal was published by someone under the pseudonym "Psyche" in A Counterblast to Spookland; or, Glimpses of the Marvellous (1895).
As late as 1931 Mellon was still active as a medium. H. L. Williams, a retired magistrate from the Punjab, wrote to Harry Price (Psychic Research, June 1931): "As regards her (Mrs. Mellon), Dr. Haworth, a well-known doctor of Port Darwin, has testified before me that at Melbourne, in the presence of leading and professional men, he saw many times a spot of mist on the carpet which rose into a column out of which stepped a completely embodied human being who was recognised…." Sir William Windeyer, chief judge, and Alfred Deaking, prime minister of Australia, were, according to the letter, convinced that Mellon was genuine. Of course none of these men, however eminent, were trained observers.
Gale Encyclopaedia of Occultism and Parapsychology