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Turvey, Vincent N

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all paintings on this page by Stanley Spencer

Vincent Newton Turvey (1873-1912) was a British clairvoyant and engineer known in the field of parapsychology for his book - The Beginnings of Seership – Astral Projection, Clairvoyance and prophecy

Turvey refused to be classified as a medium since he was never entranced or controlled, did not develop his gifts (which he was partly born with), placed his time and his services at the disposal of investigators without fee or reward, and confessed that he was unaware of the extent or of the limits of his own powers. Often, when he felt he needed his powers most, he found he could command them least.

Turvey became the vice president of The Bournemouth Society of Spiritualists from 1908, 4 years before he died.

Life

W T Stead – Preface to The Beginnings of Seership

Joseph Chamberlain

Mr. Turvey is a real man, and no myth. He lives at a seaside watering-place, in a villa pleasantly placed in the midst of a large garden surrounded by pine woods. He pays rates and taxes like an ordinary mortal, sends his children to school, and provides for the expenses of his household in the ordinary way of ordinary men.   In personal appearance he is a man like other men, bearing indeed an almost uncanny resemblance to Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, of whom he appears to be a miniature edition, There is nothing to differentiate him from the other well-to-do British citizens in the midst of whom he lives and moves and has his being.

....There seems little in his personal history to indicate why he more than others should have this abnormal mentality. He is a Lancashire man, born in Southport on February 11, 1873 at 7.45 p.m., a fact which astrologers will be glad to have. As a child he was delicate; and, like many other children before the darkness of our prison house descends upon them, he was accustomed to see forms moving around him, which grown-ups declared did not exist.

 

Turvey saw spirits as a child;  his last experience of that kind in childhood was a vision which he had of his father. Turvey was singing in church as a choir boy, when he suddenly saw the apparition of his father. Some weeks afterwards he was told that his father had died at the very time, and at a place 300 miles away. Vincent was ten years old when, for some years, the visionary faculty left him.

W T Stead – Preface to The Beginnings of Seership

In 1883 he was sent to school in Bedfordshire. He was a wiry, athletic, school boy, with the temperament of quicksilver, and a, physique as tough and as spare as a wire nail. In 1890 he left school, and studied engineering with a view to entering the navy. During the next five years he worked hard at his profession, but he toiled still harder as a cyclist. He was "cycle-mad" - crazy for breaking records. As a member of the North Road Club he entered for fifty-mile road races, and very nearly succeeded in breaking the record. To ride from London to York in twenty hours was mere pastime, He was a light weight, full of nerve, and with a passion for speed. In 1895 he passed one of his examinations for the navy; but, for family reasons, he did not take up a profession in which, to judge from the high character of his certificates, he would probably have risen to distinction. In 1902 his health broke down completely. Since then it has been a marvel that he has survived.

He himself said about his illness

The fact that I am alive, is to me, and to those doctors and friends who know my case, nothing short of a miracle. To mention only one illness, pyo-pneumothorax (in layman's language, the lung burst like a bicycle tire and displaced the heart), is sufficient' to make ordinary people 'quit the body'; but I have had many other illnesses besides that. My case will appear in a great physician's book as a leading instance of the possibility of an almost impossible recovery. ….No one would believe what I have been through. Many times I have been given up; but someone inside me always said, 'Not yet, my boy," or words to that effect. On one occasion a doctor said, "Send for his friends, he will not see tea-time.”

But he did.  It was after his worst illness that the gift of seeing and hearing things, invisible and inaudible to others, came back to him.

W T Stead – Preface to The Beginnings of Seership

I know the author well. He is a gentleman of good standing and of independent means. Although he has long been an invalid, the clearness of his mind and the acuteness of his intelligence have never been impaired by the severity of the sufferings which have racked his physical frame. I do not think that he is capable of stating anything that is false, especially on a subject like this.


For many years, he lived alone in his garden, in a tent, and spent ten or twelve hours a day reading, writing, and ‘meditating on occult things’.

After forty thousand hours on one topic, I think I can claim to be, in a small way, a yogi. My illness and my meditation have produced, or awakened, my psychic gifts; and all the Yoga, Vedic and Gnostic teachings which I now read (and much more besides) seem to be familiar to me. I seem to have evolved them in my own mind, during meditation from a sort of 'memory.' In fact I often pitch a book away and say 'Why, I know all this,' and yet I had not read it before. Many Eastern forms come and argue with me, and, of course, I learn from them; but they do not come to teach me as a guru would. They come 'to help you to teach yourself in this present life.' In a word, I am 'Self-taught'; but I owe a great deal to Eastern forms, many of whom visit me and give tests of their identity by talking to me in their own languages; and I get the messages translated."

His book

His book, The Beginnings of Seership (1911), records his experiences.  The book provides no explanation as to why he suddenly started to get these experiences.  In fact he himself says

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

So far as possible I refrain from offering any explanation of the modus operandi, for the excellent reason that I do not know for certain ‘how’ or ‘why’ I have done these things.


But his illness seems to have played a key part, as it often does.  And this is how the book started, which provides examples, the witnesses he refers to are the witnesses to his experiences :

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

 

Eight years ago a letter of mine was printed in the Daily Mail, and in it I mentioned that

"I leave my body and travel to places I have never seen, and this I think is perhaps the reason that many people often recognize a place and seem to know it well, although they have not been there before."

A simple, inoffensive statement, and yet I was inundated with abusive letters and postcards, mostly signed, "A lover of Jesus," "A follower of Christ," or "An upholder of God."
Naturally I desire to protect my witnesses from similar attacks. Many other letters were received, and most of the writers received tests that satisfied them. In fact, indirectly, the whole of this book is due to that letter. For then it was that, in spite of my illness, which is still with me, I determined to collect a mass of evidence which would satisfy any unbiased, fair-minded man that in the human mind there are gigantic possibilities which at present are largely unrecognized except by the student of occultism.


He kept all the witness statements, and the letters that corroborated the description in the book and it is in some ways this feature that makes the book that much more interesting

W T Stead – Preface to The Beginnings of Seership

The distinctive feature of his book is that there is hardly one narrative which is not vouched for by independent witnesses, whose written statements I have seen, and whose testimony is still available. It is not as if these eye-witnesses were called upon, after a long lapse of time, to revive memories of a distant past with the aid of leading questions by a zealous counsel. Their letters were written at the time that the incidents occurred, and they are printed as they were written.


And

 

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

Thanks to the courtesy and kindness of The Editor of Light, 110, St. Martin's Lane, London W.C., I am allowed to refer bona fide researchers, to him. He holds all the original letters, and upon appointment made, will be pleased to show them. I have decided to make a charge of one shilling for viewing the originals, and the proceeds will be handed to Dr. Barnardo's Home for Waifs and Strays. This is done to save useless wear and tear of the letters at the hands of the merely idly curious.[or some other equally deserving charitable institution]


Turvey refused to comply with any requests which he received after the publication of the book, for demonstrations of his abilities and of course, immediately the skeptics jumped in with accusations of ‘fraud’.  But he gave the reason for doing so in his book

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

Seeing that my gifts or faculties are not under my control and that I cannot switch them on and off as I like, it would be impossible for me to make any appointment for the purpose of demonstration with any degree of certainty as to the production of the phenomena.  Furthermore the mere fact of knowing that I was being tested would almost for certain kill all chances of success.  The anxiety to prove the truth of my statements would alone be sufficient to stop psychic action – for I am not protected by the trance condition and the knowledge that if I failed I should be called a liar and if I succeeded I should in all probability be called a trickster, would be the coup de grace.


 

Why did he write the book?  It wasn’t money.

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

Whilst being willing to place at the disposal of any investigator facts which may be of use to him in his researches, I am not in the least anxious to convince skeptics.  ……. I felt I had done nothing for humanity. I felt that my gifts, which returned during my illness, should at least be tabulated and evidenced, in the hope that, by the record of what I have seen, some fellow-man might be convinced that there is no death. If only one soul be convinced by my book, that will be enough payment for me for anything I may have suffered in order to demonstrate and tabulate the phenomena which I have experienced.


So it was to help people and as we have seen above to 'move things on' spiritually.  But it cost him quite dearly………..

Author’s forward  - The Beginnings of Seership

The labour, the worry, the mental, physical and psychical difficulties with which I have had to contend, to say nothing of the lack of sympathy and charitableness, have been almost more than I could stand. However, I have used my mental and spiritual forces to override my physical weaknesses, and shall consider that my reward is sufficient if this book be the means of bringing one soul to find peace and happiness in the assurance of an after-life. I shall indeed be glad if one sceptical doctor be, by my work, led to acknowledge that man can function at a distance from his body, that man can "see" that which is beyond the range of physical vision, and that perhaps the brain after all doe s not represent the thinking part of man, but is only the part which is thought through by the " real man " himself. In using the word "Super-normal" in preference to the misleading words " miraculous " and " supernatural," I desire to be under stood as using it in its accepted sense of to-day ; for I fully realize that the super-normal of one generation or race will, in accordance with the Law of Evolution, be the "normal" of future generations. I hope that it is unnecessary for me to say that I in no way, either directly or indirectly, make money out of, or accept fees for, any little thing I may do for my fellow-man, by means of my super-normal mental action, or, as I prefer to call it, my Seership.

A voucher was printed in the book by four men who testified to having inspected the original documents and controlled their reproduction. The journalist and Spiritualist W.T. Stead, declared

"Mr. Turvey is a man of truth, that his testimony is trustworthy evidence as to what is within his own knowledge, and that the witnesses' letters which are held for the scrutiny of inquirers are the genuine epistles of credible witnesses.

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