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Edmund Dawson Rogers was born in 1823 to a poor Methodist family in Holt, Norfolk. His father, John, abandoned the family, leaving his mother, Sarah, alone. With help from Sarah’s brother, Edmund was able to attend grammar school where he studied Latin and Greek. When he left school, he apprenticed with a druggist and studied botany for six years.

Rogers married Sophia Jane Hawkes in 1843 and two years later moved to Wolverhampton where he worked as a surgeon’s dispenser and joined the Staffordshire Mercury as a journalist. By 1848, he was appointed editor of the Norfolk News. It was during this time that he began to doubt his faith and at the same time was introduced to the spiritual teachings and philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg who lived 100 years before him.

Rogers used his knowledge of mesmerism to help an invalid lady, “Miss A.” in 1865. She was confined to her bed and he used the technique to give her some relief from her suffering. Miss A. would soon confide in him about her peculiar abilities, which included premonitions and clairvoyance. Roger visited Miss A. regularly for several years. She related to him her visions of the spiritual plane. During a family outing, he was even able to contact her from 40 miles away.

Rogers became more involved with Spiritualism. In 1869, he attended seances with D.D. Home and Mrs. Marshall. In 1870, he became acquainted with the Everitts and attended Mrs. Everitt’s seances. Conan Doyle’s book refers to a narrative given by Rogers in 1885 at a séance conducted by Mr. Elington.

At the séance, ectoplasm was produced. Rogers described it as “a dingy, white-looking substance” that swayed and pulsated. He said that there were fourteen persons present and that there was sufficient light to enable the writer of the report “clearly to observe everybody and everything in the room.” The ectoplasm took form. Eventually, the connecting link severed and became invisible, and the “form” advanced to Mr. Everitt, “shook hands with him, and passed round the circle, treating nearly everyone in the same manner.”

In 1870, Rogers became the first editor of the Eastern Counties Daily Press which became the Eastern Daily Press. He moved London in 1873, and at the request of leading members of the Liberal Party established the National Press Agency. That same year, he helped form the British National Association of Spiritualists. He also founded the journal Light which he edited from 1894 until his death in 1910.

In 1881–1882 he founded the Society of Psychical Research with Sir William and was a founding member of the London Spiritual Alliance. He also published and edited The Tenant Farmer (1894–1898) and The Free Speaker (1873–1874).

Rogers and his wife, Sophia, had six children, two sons and four daughters. Sophia died in 1892. Rogers followed in 1910 while living in London.

Additional Reading:

Rogers, Edmund Dawson. (1911) Life and Experiences of Edmund Dawson Rogers, Spiritualist and Journalist (new edition by Kessinger Publishing, London, 2004) 


Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur (1926) “The History of Spiritualism” Volume II, Chapter 4

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