Piddington, J(ohn) G(eorge) (1869-1952)

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Piddington, J(ohn) G(eorge) (1869-1952)

Officer of the Society for Psychical Research, London. He served successively as a member of council (1899-1932), secretary (1899-1907), treasurer (1917-21) and president (1924-25). He was born J. G. Smith in 1869, but he took his mother's family name in order to avoid confusion with other leading members of the Society for Psychical Research. He joined the SPR in 1890 and subsequently devoted the rest of his life to the cause of psychical research. He helped to create the SPR research endowment fund in 1902, which enabled the Society to have a full-time paid research officer. In 1905 Piddington visited the United States and assisted in the organization of the American branch of the SPR as an independent society.

In the field of psychical research, he worked with Eleanor Sidgwick, G. W. Balfour, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Alice Johnson in interpreting the scripts of the "SPR group" of automatic writers concerned with cross correspondence. The SPR group of mediums consisted of Margaret Verrall, Helen Verrall, Leonora Piper, Winifred Coombe-Tenant (usually identified in the literature as Mrs. Willett), Alice Fleming (Mrs. Holland), Dame Edith Lyttelton (Mrs. King), and Mrs. Stuart Wilson. There were over three thousand of these scripts, which became fully meaningful when correctly juxtaposed. These cross correspondences have been cited as among the very best evidence of individual survival of death.

Piddington's presidential address in 1924 was directed to the issue then dividing psychical research: the strict standards of investigation and reporting on the observation of mediums. The issue divided the American Society for Psychical Research in 1925 and would lead to the resignation of Spiritualist believer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the SPR. Piddington died in April 1952.


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

Gauld, Alan. The Founders of Psychical Research. New York: Schrocken Books, 1968.

Piddington, John George. "Cross Correspondences of a Gallic Type." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 29, 72 (1916).

. "Presidential Address." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 34, 89 (1924).

. "A Reply to Sir Oliver Lodge's Note." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 30, 77 (1918).

. "A Series of Concordant Automatisms." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 22, 57 (1908).

Piddington, John George, and Eleanor Sidgwick. "Note on Mrs. Piper's Hodgson-Control in England." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 23, 58 (1909).

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

Salter, W. H. "J. G. Piddington and His Work on the Cross-Correspondence 'Scripts.' " Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 36 (1952).