Lees, Robert James (ca. 1849-ca. 1931)

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Lees, Robert James (ca. 1849-ca. 1931)

British clairvoyant and pensioner of the Privy Purse who was often received at Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria. He was also the subject of a hoax concerning the infamous Jack the Ripper case. An article was published in the London Daily Express March 9, 1931, shortly after Lees' death, claiming that Lees rendered great service to the English police. Lees, it was claimed, had unaccountable premonitions of the crimes the Ripper was going to commit. In a vision Lees saw the victim and the place. He communicated his descriptions to the police, and later findings corroborated the details in the vision. When the visions continued to reoccur, the police asked Lees to track down the murderer. Much in the same way as a bloodhound pursues a criminal, Lees set out in a state of trance, followed by an inspector and detectives. While on the trail, at four o'clock in the morning Lees halted at the gates of a West End mansion where a prominent physician was living and, pointing to an upper chamber where a faint light gleamed, declared: "There is the murderer." It was reported that the physician later confessed that he was subject to fits of obsession in which he committed acts of fiendish cruelty. Evidence consistent with victims of the Ripper was found in his rooms, and on the recommendations of a medical committee, he was confined to an insane asylum.

Later it was learned that this story stemmed from a journalistic hoax reported in the Chicago Sunday-Times Herald April 28, 1895, which reported that Lees had a vision of one of the killings prior to its occurrence.

During his life, Lees was best known for his healing work, his controls often diagnosing disease and effecting remarkable, instantaneous cures. Lees also published several books that he claimed were inspired psychically. He wrote a posthumous manuscript that is supposedly the autobiography of a soul in paradise.


Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Lees, Robert J. The Car of Phoebus: An Astral Bridegroom. N.p., 1909.

. The Gate of Heaven. N.p., n.d.

. The Heretic. N.p., 1901.

. The Life Elysian. N.p., 1905.

. "My Books: How They Were Written." Occult Review (December 1931).

. Through the Mists. London: W. Rider & Sons Ltd., 1910.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

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Lees, Robert James (ca. 1849-ca. 1931)

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