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Craddock, Frederick G. Foster (ca. 1920)

Craddock, Frederick G. Foster (ca. 1920)

British materialization medium with a colorful career, several times exposed in imposture. As early as 1879, in Manchester, the materialized spirit "Rosetta" was grabbed and the light revealed the medium in his shirt and one stocking. Craddock recovered from this incident and went on to practice his mediumship for many years. In 1904 he came back into the public limelight when Henry Llewellyn and Gambier Bolton related their experiences in Bolton's book Psychic Force (1904).

In 1906 Craddock was dragged into court by the Daily Express newspaper for obtaining money under false pretenses. Lt. Col. Mark Mayhew, writing in Light, March 24, 1906, described how the spirit "Abdullah" was seized and found to be the medium. Those present at the session also saw Craddock remove a false moustache and put it in his pocket.

Admiral Usborne Moore, also present at the sitting, then had the doors locked, took the key, and commanded a search. Craddock placed himself in a fighting position and his wife attacked the admiral with a fire shovel. The search was conducted anyway. In a drawer a small electric torch was found, the instrument of spirit lights. Craddock would not allow the search of his person. For this reason Moore, in Glimpses of the Next Slate (1911), could not excuse him.

Moore concluded, however, that Craddock was apparently in trance at the moment he was seized for when he scrambled up into his chair he chattered in the voice of "Graem," his principal control. Moore believed that Graem was an undesirable spirit. Admiral Moore concluded that Craddock was a sensitive who had prostituted his gift. Even if the voices of Graem and "Red Crow," a Native American control, could be assumed, he argued that it would be impossible to reproduce constantly and faithfully the voices and special modes of speech of "Adler," "Sister Aimee," "Joey Grimaldi" and the French girl "Cerise."

Moore's opinion now seems somewhat naive, considering the varied performances of stage ventriloquists who can reproduce a number of different voices at high speed. As for the impersonated spirit Abdullah, Moore recorded that he saw him twice in Toledo, through the mediumship of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Jonson.

As a consequence of the exposure by Mayhew, Craddock was fined in the Edgware Police Court 10 pounds or one month's imprisonment. A week after Mayhew's article, William McDougall, of Oxford, told the story in Light, March 31, 1906, of a similar experience with Craddock six years before. Abdullah, the spirit, was found to be identical to Craddock. The story was originally related in the spiritualist magazine, The Two Worlds, but the editor withheld the name of the medium.

As a result of the scandal surrounding his 1906 exposures, Craddock withdrew from the limelight, but he did not give up professional mediumship. H. Dennis Bradley in The Wisdom of the Gods (1925) describes a direct voice sitting with him on December 5, 1924. Seemingly oblivious to the mechanisms of materialization and unaware of his former exposure, Bradley asserts,

"Throughout I could not help feeling a suggestion of super-normal impersonation. On the whole I am inclined to think that Craddock has considerable powers but I should imagine that these powers vary. His guides appeared to me to be very evasive in their replies to questions verging on any evidential point. I am inclined to think his mediumship is more upon the physical than the mental plane."

A few years later, in his The Tragedy of the Heavens (1930), Walter Gibbons described Craddock as one of the greatest direct voice mediums, as:

"The possessor of a power that is unique in strength and quality, and should he choose to utilize his exceptional gifts for gain, he could, by reason of so doing, be an exceedingly wealthy man. However, this could never be, so he lives the life of a recluse in a small country cottage in very humble circumstances, mainly supported by one or two friends."

Reading all the evidence, however, one would have to be excessively charitable to believe that Craddock was other than a persistent fraud.

Sources:

Bradley, H. Dennis. The Wisdom of the Gods. London: T. Werner Lavrie Ltd., 1925.

"Exposures of Mr. Craddock." Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 12.

Gibbons, Walter. The Tragedy of the Heavens. N.p., 1930.

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