Like many New York Law Institute members, John W. Edmonds had both a distinguished legal career and a highly developed sense of civic duty.

The opinion of a respected citizen such as JWE convinced many,

including Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, of Spiritualism’s merits. Others speculated that Judge Edmonds consulted with the spirits before coming to his judicial decisions! JWE resigned his judgeship in 1853 and returned to private practice.

The Fox Sisters went on to become part of Barnum Hotel entertainments. Oldest sister Maggie later acknowledged that the seance rappings were the result of the three sisters’ talents of loudly cracking their toes.

JWE’s publication of Spiritualism with co-author Dr. George Dexter cemented his reputation in the Spiritualist community. Edmonds’ daughter Laura was a medium , and JWE claimed he was able to channel philosopher Francis Bacon and theologian Swedenborg. Two months after his death, JWE reportedly gave a lengthy speech through famed medium Cora Tappan .

So next time you are researching historical New York statutes or early cases, you are welcome to go the conventional route and contact us at The New York Law Institute... or, if you are a little bit curious and want Judge John W. Edmonds’ exact thoughts.. there may a medium in your future !

Margaret Cassidy, NYLI Summer Intern and current Skidmore Junior, contributed to the research for this article.