1885 (pre.): An Old Friend Visits

It had been a casual day for Rev. G. M. Tandy, of Loweswater, Cumbria, England. He had visited a friend during the day, who had given him a newspaper, bound with a wrapper to keep it clean. And once Tandy had returned home, he spent the evening absorbed in some writing he wanted to do.

        Sometime between 10:00PM and 11:00PM, Tandy found he wanted to get a reference right and, since the book he needed was in his own collection, he took his candle to the room with the bookcase. Placing the candle on the edge of the bookcase, Tandy soon found both the book he wanted, and the passage within it he was looking for and, as he was reading, he glanced up at the window opposite the bookcase... and saw someone staring at him. But not just someone; it was Canon Robinson, an old friend from middle school and college, whom Tandy had not seen for about ten years.

Canon Robinson!
[Larger version here]

        Almost immediately after, Tandy rushed to his door to greet his friend; not seeing him there, he called Robinson's name out to get his attention. Still he did not see him. It was a dark night out. Tandy searched around for his friend, and asked neighbors if they had seen a stranger near his house. No one had.

        Somewhat disappointed and baffled, Tandy returned to his house but could not fully concentrate on writing anymore. Instead he took up the newspaper his friend had given him earlier to distract himself. Removing the wrapper, the first article Tandy saw announced the recent death of Canon Robinson.

Paper Chase

        The incident above was first reported to the Society for Psychical Research [SPR] in 1885, initially noted in the January edition of the society's Journal... which means the events happened previous to that printing, obviously. Less obviously, the letter is said to come from "Rev. G. M. Tandy ...[sic]... formerly of Loweswater," which means if I'm ever able to find out when Tandy left Loweswater, I'll be able to narrow the date for this event down more.

        The SPR inquired for more details on the matter, and included both Tandy's original letter and a follow-up note in the society's Proceedings magazine for March 1889; and the above is a summary using all of the available information from the printing.

        In his second note to the SPR, Tandy now described his friend's face as appearing "ghastly pale." Personally, I suspect this detail to have been added after the fact of discovering his friend was actually dead, since Tandy's first reaction to the sighting was a happy excitement rather than any form of worry or horror. In any case, Tandy states that there was absolutely no doubt in his mind as to whom he had seen: "the features so marked and so distinct that I recognised it at once as the face of my most dear and intimate friend."

        Tandy added that the last time he had seen Canon Robinson (previous to the face in the window!), his friend had been in excellent health, "much more likely to out-live me than I him." Tandy swore that previous to opening the newspaper, which he did about an hour after seeing the face in the window, he had no indication of either his friend's death or the contents of the newspaper itself. He also stated that there was nothing about his writing or the reference he had looked up that would in any way lead him to think of Canon Robinson to start with.

        In answer to a standard question from the SPR regarding whether Tandy "had any other vision or hallucination of any kind," he stated that the only such occurrence he could think of was some mysterious noises which both he and some friends had heard, and could not 'satisfactorily account for.'

        While this event has most of the hallmarks of what's known as a "Death Wraith," which is a one-time ghost encounter that appears to only be to notify a friend or family member that a loved one has died, there is a definite vagary in this case that I'm sure intrigued the researchers of the SPR. Since the newspaper held an announcement of Canon Robinson's death, it's not likely the ghost appeared specifically to notify Tandy of what must have happened at least a day earlier... so did Tandy have a psychic vision based on what was in the newspaper he had yet to look at? We'll never get a chance to ask now!

        The SPR did not know what newspaper Tandy had seen, and so was unable to track the actual article. It seems likely that several years had passed between the incident and the SPR's involvement, so Tandy may have simply forgotten the name of the paper by then. Still, it was likely a Loweswater area local paper, so I will try to dig further when I can.