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Moses, William Stainton

(1839-1892). English clergyman and spiritualist medium. Moses was for a time a close friend of both Henry Olcott and Helena P. Blavatsky and is often mentioned in The Mahātma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. Moses was born on November 5, 1839, at Donington in Lincolnshire, England. He matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford in 1858 taking a third class in Classical Moderations in 1860. He was ordained and from 1863 to 1870 acted as curate in the Isle of Man in the West of England. Ill-health forced him to give up parish work and he earned his living teaching until 1889 when ill-health again overtook him and he retired from active work.

In 1872 Moses became interested in Spiritualism after reading Dale Owen’s book The Debatable Land and he tried a number of mediums and took part in many séances. He eventually discovered that he had mediumistic powers himself which took the form of physical phenomena and automatic writing. He quickly gained prominence within the Spiritualist movement and was a leading figure in the founding of the British National Association of Spiritualists. He served on the Council of the Psychological Society and also on the Council of the Society for Psychical Research.

Contact between Olcott and Moses first took place in April 1875, before the formation of the Theosophical Society, when he wrote to Olcott about his recently published book. It appears that a lively and frequent correspondence was carried on between Moses, Olcott and Blavatsky for many years until Alfred P. Sinnett was indiscreet enough to relay to Moses some critical comments on Moses made by the Master Koot Hoomi. This error of judgment turned Moses from a friend into an enemy prompting K. H. to write in a letter to Sinnett, “. . . not only has S.M. completely estranged himself from the Society [THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY] some of whose members believe in us, but he has determined in his heart the utter annihilation of the British Branch” (ML, p. 130).

Moses died in 1892 of chronic nephritis.


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