Robert James Lees - Biography

Robert James Lees


A Brief Biography of Robert James Lees - 1849-1931

Very few of the claims published in this article by "The Two Worlds" in August 1949, can be substantiated, but the text is reprinted here to provide an indication of the status once afforded to Robert James Lees by the spiritualist community.

 The text is an abridged version of a biography written by Lees' eldest daughter, Eva Lees, shortly after her father's death. This article was published to mark the centenary of his birth

Lees classic portrait

A classic portrait dated c.1925 courtesy of Psychic News


"In August 1849, a boy was born in the small town of Hinckley, Leicestershire, who was destined to become one of the greatest mediums this country has produced. He was Robert James Lees and was one of a family of eight.

Very early in life he became a vehicle for messages from the Spirit World. Before he was twelve years of age he was a deep trance medium, and in that state manifested a high degree of culture, a perfect use of the English language, and a range of philosophic knowledge that astounded his listeners.


Lees reading

The provenance of this photograph is not known. It is probably the work of an amateur photographer, the date being c.1910-1915


This led to a series of sťances given to Queen Victoria at which Prince Albert (her late husband) gave convincing evidence of his identity, and his continued interest in the Queen and of this country. This led to a request to remain permanently at the court in order that the Prince Consort might be regularly communicated with concerning matters of state. Acting under the advice of his chief control, the request was declined, but John Brown, a young ghillie on the Balmoral staff, was named as a suitable substitute. Lees was however allowed to give sťances to her Majesty in exceptional circumstances and did so.

Trance mediums today still perform seances for bereaved people wanting reassurance after the passing of a loved one. Recovery from severe depression after the loss of a loved one can be treated at an institution such as Morningside Recovery.

Coming from a long line of Calvinistic ministers from the time of Cromwell, Mr Lees rebelled against the phenomenal side of mediumship and preferred the preaching and expository side. He attempted to join Spurgeon's College, but the unorthodoxy of his sermons made him unacceptable.



Lees formal pose

Another studio portrait, this time emphasising Lees' `piercing eyes'. The date is c.1915


At the age of twenty-two he entered into matrimony and this was succeeded by many years of happy companionship. A year later he joined the staff of the Manchester Guardian and in this connection met Mr George Newnes, who was then in a state of despondency. They jointly promoted Titbits and for a time Mr Lees assisted in its publication. He was also associated with General Booth in founding the Salvation Army.

In 1886 he conducted a lecture tour in America where he established a friendship with Edison, and was one of the first to have his voice recorded. Returning to London he founded the people's League at Peckham, and often addressed meetings of several thousand people.


Lees picture from `The Heretic

From the frontispiece of several editions
of `The Heretic'


On many occasions he was consulted by Scotland Yard and was instrumental in effecting the arrest of Dr Gallacher and his confederates (American Irish Fenians) who were condemned to long terms of imprisonment (twenty years for the ringleader) for an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

He was also instrumental in effecting the arrest of the mad doctor who gained notoriety as "Jack the Ripper" when Scotland Yard has been completely baffled by this series of crimes.

It would be impossible in a short article to enumerate the many activities of Robert Lees - his remarkable healings, his work for social reforms, his association with men and women in high places and his public debates.


Lees in walking attire

`Gentleman' Lees in his walking attire. The date is probably c.1910


Perhaps, however, the most remarkable phase of this unique mediumship was the production of the series of volumes of which Robert Lees only claimed to be the amanuensis. One Christmas Eve a stranger suddenly appeared before him, though the door was closed. Lees quickly surmised that this was a visitor from the next world and invited him to be seated. The stranger proceeded to dictate the remarkable volume "Through the Mists" outlining the nature of life in the Spirit World.

His publication created tremendous interest and it is now in its nineteenth edition. There followed "The Life Elysian", "An Astral Bridegroom", "The Heretic", and lastly "The Gate of Heaven".


Lees seated portrait

This portrait is titled `The Recorder', being the name Lees bestowed upon himself, claiming that he was merely the recorder of works dictated to him by spiritual visitors, rather than being the author


R.J.Lees never closely associated himself with any established organisation. His was the true mediumistic temperament which must obey the promptings of the spirit. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is every man who is born of the spirit".
Lees working at his typewriter

The photographer was no doubt suggesting the spiritualist aspect of Lees' writings in this atmospheric portrait


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Updated 19/06/14