Bishop, Beatrice Ethel Gaulton (1891–1974) Nurse, Medium, minister, and leader in Canadian Spiritualism.
Beatrice Ethel Gaulton was born on December 31, 1891, in Tottenham, Middlesex, near London. Her father died when she was three, and her mother remarried, giving her a half-sister, born in 1896.
During World War I, Gaulton, a nurse, made her first visit to a spiritualist church while on holiday at Bournemouth, Dorset. She immediately felt at home. Upon returning to London, she resigned her job in order to pursue her new faith.
She returned to the Bournemouth Spiritualist Church, where she studied for five years and developed her psychic talents under the minister Frank T. Blake, president of the Spiritualists’ National Union. She was also aided by Hewat McKenzie, founder of the British College of Psychic Science. She lived for a number of years in Sussex, London, and Kent, where she played an influential role in several churches and gained a reputation as an excellent medium.
In 1935, Gaulton visited Canada and decided to live there. She lectured and Demonstrated her psychic gifts at churches in the Toronto area, and in 1937 was ordained as a spiritualist minister by the International General Assembly of Spiritualists. Her ordination certificate was signed by the assembly’s founder and president, Arthur Ford.
Gaulton traveled extensively in Canada and the United States. In 1938, in Vancouver, British Columbia, she married widower Cyril Buxton Bishop (1880–1946) and added her husband’s surname to her own. She ceased her missionary work and concentrated her activities in Vancouver.
Gaulton Bishop was a gifted spiritual healer and trance medium. From 1933 on, she was aided in her trance sermons by a spirit Control named Azra, who said he had been a Christian martyr. She also had a humorous girl spirit, Pansy, who gave evidence of survival to sitters.
Cyril died suddenly in December 1946. In 1947, Gaulton Bishop returned to England to represent Canada at an international gathering of spiritualists to reorganize the INTERNATIONAL SPIRitualIST FEDERATION.
Upon returning to Canada, Gaulton Bishop settled in White Rock, British Columbia. She helped found the White Rock Society for Psychic Study, and in 1952 became pastor of the National Memorial Church at Vancouver. She held various offices of the NSA and served as its president during 1956–1958. In March 1957, she was invited to read prayers before the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, becoming both the first spiritualist and first woman minister to do so.
During 1957, Gaulton Bishop played a key role in trying to bring the NSA and the Spiritualists’ National Union of Canada (see SPIRitualIST CHURCH OF CANADA) closer together. The effort failed, and in 1959, Gaulton Bishop, Reverend Dr. John Horning, and Reverend Doris A. Horning founded the INTERNATIONAL SPIRitualIST ALLIANCE. Gaulton Bishop served as the ISA’s president and senior minister until her death.
Gaulton Bishop opposed the use of the PLANCHETTE and Ouija board (see TALKING BOARD). She acknowledged that the planchette was an easy means of communicating with spirit, but said she had never used one. In November 1968, in response to Christmas advertisements promoting talking boards as a children’s game, she called them a “dangerous instrument,” adding, “It’s just like playing with electricity. If you don’t know how to handle it, you’ll get a shock.”
Gaulton Bishop said that using a talking board “seems to bring on an uprush of the subconscious.” She said she had known cases of individuals who had become mentally unbalanced; some had purportedly come under the control of undesirable forces through use of the board and had required healing treatment. The toy manufacturers had their say in the following days.
Gaulton Bishop died on April 22, 1974, in Burnaby, British Columbia.
- Journals of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, March 18, 1957, vol. 87, p. 93.
- “Reverend Beatrice Gaulton Bishop,” NSA News Review 1, no. 4 (February 1957): 2–3.