Daniel Dunglas Home

Daniel Dunglas Home (pronounced ‘Hume’) (March 20, 1833 – June 21, 1886) was a Scottish Spiritualist, famous as a physical medium with the reported ability to levitate to a variety of heights, speak with the dead, and to produce rapping and knocks in houses at will.


When Home was young, he moved with his aunt and uncle from Scotland to America, where they lived in Connecticut. After becoming well-known he travelled to England in 1855, and conducted hundreds of séances, which were attended by many of the best-known names of the Victorian period.

Home’s name was originally Daniel Home, but by the time he arrived in Europe he had lengthened it to Daniel Dunglas Home, in reference to the Scottish house of Home, of which his father claimed to be a part. In London Home found a believer in spiritualism, William Cox, who owned a large hotel at 53, 54 and 55 Jermyn Street, London. As Cox was so enamoured of Home’s abilities, he let Home stay at the hotel without payment. Robert Owen, an 83-year-old social reformer, was also staying at the hotel, and introduced Home to many of his friends in London society.At the time Home described as tall and thin, with blue eyes and auburn hair, fastidiously dressed but seriously ill with consumption. Nevertheless, he held sittings for notable people in full daylight, moving objects that were some distance away. Some early guests at Home’s sittings included the scientist Sir David Brewster, the novelists Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Thomas Adolphus Trollope, and the Swedenborgian James John Garth Wilkinson.Home converted most sceptics, but Robert Browning, the poet, proved more difficult. After attending a séance of Home’s Browning gave his impression of Home in the unflattering poem, “Sludge the Medium” (1864). His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was convinced that the phenomena she witnessed was genuine and their discussions about Home were a constant source of disagreement.


Home’s fame grew, fuelled by his feats of levitation. William Crookes claimed to know of more than 50 occasions in which Home levitated “in good light” (gas light) at least five to seven feet above the floor. Homes’ feats were recorded by Frank Podmore: “We all saw him rise from the ground slowly to a height of about six inches, remain there for about ten seconds, and then slowly descend.” In the following years Home travelled across continental Europe, and always as a guest of wealthy patrons. In Paris, he was summoned to the Tuileries to perform a séance for Napoleon III. Home also performed for Queen Sophia of the Netherlands, who wrote: “I saw him four times…I felt a hand tipping my finger; I saw a heavy golden bell moving alone from one person to another; I saw my handkerchief move alone and return to me with a knot… He himself is a pale, sickly, rather handsome young man but without a look or anything which would either fascinate or frighten you. It is wonderful. I am so glad I have seen it…”

In 1866, Mrs Lyon, a wealthy widow, adopted Home as her son, giving him £60,000 in an attempt to gain introduction into high society. Finding that the adoption did not change her social situation, Lyon changed her mind, and brought a suit for the return of her money from Home on the grounds that it had been obtained by spiritual influence. Under British law, the defendant bears the burden of proof in such a case, and proof was impossible since there was no physical evidence. The case was decided against Home, Mrs Lyon’s money was returned, and the press pilloried Home’s reputation. Home’s high society acquaintances thought that he behaved like a complete gentleman throughout the ordeal, and he did not lose a single important friend.

Home met one of his future closest friends in 1867; the young Lord Adare (later the 4th Earl of Dunraven). Adare was fascinated by Home, and began documenting the seances they held. One of Home’s levitations occurred the following year, and in front of three witnesses (Adare, Captain Wynne, and Lord Lindsay) Home was said to have levitated out of the third storey window of one room, and back in through the window of the adjoining room.

Home married twice. In 1858, he married Alexandria de Kroll, the 17-year-old daughter of a noble Russian family. They had a son, Gregoire, but Alexandria fell ill with tuberculosis, and died in 1862. In October 1871, Home married for the second, and last time, to Julie de Gloumeline, a wealthy Russian, whom he met in St Petersburg. In the process, he converted to the Greek Orthodox faith. At the age of 38, Home retired, as his health was bad – the tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for most of his life, was advancing –and his powers, he claimed, were failing. He died on the 21 June 1886, and was buried in the St. Germain-en-Laye cemetery.

Source: Daniel Dunglas Home. (2008, October 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:41, November 8, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Daniel_Dunglas_Home&oldid=245236737

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