Washington Irving Bishop

From Kook Science

Washington Irving Bishop
Washington Irving Bishop - ill. portrait - c. 1886.jpg

Born 4 March 1855(1855-03-04)
New York City, New York
Died 13 May 1889 (34)
Manhattan, New York
Burial 16 May 1889
Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, New York
Affiliations Freemason (32°, Royal Arch)

Washington Irving Bishop (March 4, 1855 - May 13, 1889) was an American psychical demonstrator active in the latter part of the nineteenth century, spending many years of his career in the United Kingdom (1878-1886). Part of Bishop's act involved the debunking of mediums, particularly of the Spiritualist persuasion, stemming from his early career as a manager for Anna Eva Fay, while he patterned the mind-reading aspect of his act on the performances of J. Randall Brown, to whom he acted as an assistant for a time.

Bishop's death was the cause of some controversy: his mother, Eleanor Bishop, and other relatives claimed he had experienced a cataleptic attack mistaken for death and was subsequently killed by the physicians — John A. Irwin, Frank Ferguson, and Irwin H. Hance — who performed the autopsy.[i] The circumstances resulted in charges being brought against the physicians, but the case ultimately resulted in a hung jury and the state declined to retry the case.

Selected Bibliography


  • Alexander J. McIvor-Tyndall, an English performer who toured North America, borrowed many elements of Bishop's act, including blind driving, and also claimed to regularly experience cataleptic attacks, even going so far as to carry letters warning doctors to not autopsy him, which, it was alleged, Bishop had likewise done, though the autopsying physicians in Bishop's case stated no such card was found.


  1. Eleanor Bishop's claims were published in a pamphlet entitled: Human Vivisection of Sir Washington Irving Bishop, The First and World-Eminent Mind-Reader or A Mother's Life Dedicated, and an Appeal for Justice to All Brother Masons and the Generous Public: A Synopsis of the Butchery of the Late Sir Washington Irving Bishop (Kamilimilianalani), a Most Worthy Mason of the Thirty-second Degree, the Mind Reader, and Philanthropist,