Sunday, 23 September 2012

Paranormal Investigators: Past and Present: Joseph Glanvill

"The most skilful apologist of the virtuosi"

Joseph Glanvill

Joseph Glanvill was leading English philosopher in the late 17th century, a noted writer, Joseph was also an Anglican clergyman and a sceptic.

Joseph was educated at Exeter and Lincoln Colleges in Oxford, graduating with a B.A. from Exeter and M.A. From Lincoln.
He went on to serve as rector of Frome, Selwood and Streat, before, in 1666 becoming the rector of the Abbey Church in Bath. In 1678 he became the Prebendary of Worcester and acted as the Chaplain to King Charles II.

Glanvill was the author of a book titled “The Vanity of Dogmatizing” (1661) which was controversial at the time, because of its tones for religious toleration, attacking the movements of religious persecution and scholasticism [1]. Glanvill was a supporter of freedom of thought and using the scientific method, both ideals going against the grain on thinking at the time.

In his book “Plus Ultra or the Progress and Advancement of Knowledge Since the Days of Aristotle” (1668) Glanvill reasoned that, the then current way of deducing facts about “universal laws” was flawed as reasoning alone could not unveil the truth, he preferred to use, what at the time was the experimental “scientific method”. His approach to prove scientifically that witches and ghosts exist was viewed in his day as a refutation of atheism, his methods included interviewing witnesses of paranormal events and examination of the locations involved with the phenomena.

Is Glanvill the first paranormal investigator using the modern scientific method approach? Quite possibly.

In 1681 Glanvill wrote “Sadducismus Triumphatus” which roughly translates as “The Defeat Of Sadducism”, in which Glanvill expressed his distaste for the Jewish sects teachings that denied the existence of the soul and afterlife, contradicting the teaching of Christ, but that wasnt really the point of this book, this book was aimed at anyone who deliberatly denied the existance of the supernatural, especially those who were of the church, where almost all the foundations of which are based on supernatural occurances.

Glanvill wrote about of one his famous cases in an addition to a his “Sadducismus Triumphatus” book, titled “ The Relation of the Fam'd Disturbance by the Drummer, in the House of Mr. John Mompesson”, or as it is better known, the ghost story of “The Drummer Of Tedworth”

The story goes that a local landowner, John Mompesson, brought a lawsuit against a local drummer, whom he accused of extortion. Mr Mompesson won his lawsuit, in which he also gained the drum.
 A few nights later, and every night after that, Mr Mompesson's house would be filled with the noise of drumming.
It was assumed the agrieved drummer had conjured magic through witchraft and was behind the noises as revenge for Mr Mompesson's arrogance and lawsuit.
An enquiry was made into the house by Glanvill and a number of other notable local people, all of which heard the drumming for themselves.
None could atribute to where the drumming was coming from.
Meanwhile, the drummer was sitting in a Gloucestor Gaol when he was visited by a person from his old neighbourhood in Tedworth.
The drummer asked of Mr Mompessons house, and whether there was the noise of drumming in it. The visitor told the drummer that the drumming noise is all that is spoken of in the town.
With that, the drummer stated "I have done it; I have thus plagued him; and he shall never be quiet until he hath made me satisfaction for taking away my drum."
The Drummer was sent to trial for witchcraft upon his admission and was found guilty, a crime that would usually find the guilty party burnt at the stake or beheaded, with the body hung on a gibbet [2] for all the world to see. Howver the drummer got off lightly and was sentanced to transportation.
Upon his departure the drumming stopped, but, as fate would have it, the drummer somehow managed to return from his voyage, with some saying he did it by "by raising storms and affrighting the seamen”.
The incidents of drumming commenced again and continued to do so for intervals for many more years

The case was never solved conclusively, and was later mentioned in a book by another scholar, long after Glanvill's passing, as being an elaborate hoax.

[1] Scholasticism – narrow adherence to traditional teachings, doctrines,or methods.
[2] Gibbet - use of a gallows-type structure from which the dead or dying bodies of executed criminals were hung on public display to deter other existing or potential criminals

Researched and Written
Allen Tiller

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