THE COLONEL GURWOOD CASE
In this case the automatist was also Mr. Wedgwood's friend Mrs. R., a lady of unimpeachable integrity as already stated, and the mode of sitting with planchette was the same as described in the previous case. The sitting took place in June, 1889, and is recorded in the Journal of the S.P.R. for that year. Notes of the sitting were written at the time and the planchette writing copied.
As soon as the sitting began planchette wrote that spirit was present who wanted to draw; forthwith a rough drawing was made of the top of an embattled wall, or mural coronet, from which an arm holding a sword arose. Planchette wrote, "Sorry I can't do better, was meant for a test, J.G." Asked what the drawing represented, the answer came, "Something that was given me." Asked if J.G. was a man or woman, planchette wrote "Man, John G." Mr. Wedgwood said he knew a J. Giffard, was that right? The reply came, "Not Giffard, John Gurwood, no connection of yours." Asked how he died, "I killed myself on Christmas Day, it will be forty-four years ago next Christmas," i.e. in 1845. Asked if he were in the Army, the reply came, "Yes, but it was the pen, not the sword that did for me." Asked if pen was right, and if so, was he an author who failed? the reply was "Yes, pen, I did not fail, the pen was too much for me after the wound." Asked where he was wounded the reply was "In the Peninsular in the head, I was wounded in 1810." Asked if the drawing was a crest and had anything to do with the wound planchette wrote "It came from that and was given me, the drawing was a test; remember my name, power fails to explain, stop now."
Mr. Wedgwood then recalled that a Colonel Gurwood edited the despatches of the Duke of Wellington, but he had never read any history of the Peninsular war and knew no details of Gurwood's life or of his crest: Mrs. R. was wholly ignorant of the matter. After the sitting Mr. Wedgwood looked up the matter and found that Colonel Gurwood led the forlorn hope at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo in 1812,(1) and the Annual Register states that he then "received a wound in the skull which affected him for the remainder of his life." In recognition of his bravery he received a grant of arms in 1812, which are specified in the Book of Family Crests, - and symbolised in the crest, - as follows, "Out of a mural coronet, a ruined castle in centre, and therefrom an arm, holding a scimitar." The drawing given as a test is practically this crest, though the ruined castle was doubtless too difficult to be drawn by planchette. Furthermore, the Annual Register for 1845 states that Colonel Gurwood committed suicide on Christmas Day that year, in a fit of despondency, and remarks that it was probably owing to the overstrain caused by his laborious work in editing the despatches; this explains the automatic writing, "Pen was too much for me after the wound." None of these facts were known to Mr. Wedgwood or Mrs. R. before the automatic writing came.
(1) Planchette wrote 1810, if the figures were correctly read.
In subsequent sittings Colonel Gurwood again controlled planchette and gave some further details of his life, the storming of the fort and names of persons, all of which were found to be correct so far as they could be verified.