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Washington Irving Bishop

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Washington Irving Bishop
BornMarch 4, 1856
DiedMay 13, 1889 (age 33)
Resting placeGreen Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York (Lot:5628,Sec:117)[1]
Known forMentalism

Washington Irving Bishop (1856-1889), also known as Wellington, was an American mentalist famous for his Blindfold Drive and other astounding feats during the 1880s in the United States and England. He learned his trade as an assistant to John Randall Brown, who specialized in Muscle Reading.


Bishop started his career working with the spiritualist Anna Eva Fay as her manager. In 1876 he chose to expose her methods and began doing his own show.

At first, Bishop denied the existence of using any paranormal powers, but then apparently decided that the easier to dupe people and became a "real" psychic.

Bishop is credited with originating the Blindfold Drive trick (in 1885), navigating a horse and carriage while his eyes were covered.

One of Bishop's favorite routines, copied from Brown, was to have a fictitious murderer, a weapon, and a victim chosen from among the audience members while he was out of the area. Upon his return he would identify all three.

In Britain, he lost a lawsuit brought against him by J. N. Maskelyne. Maskelyne objected to his claims of genuine psychic power, which provoked libelous remarks from the Bishop. Maskelyne sued and won the case. Bishop fled from England to escape paying the £10,000 penalty.[2]

The circumstances of Bishop's death created a very great sensation. On May 12th, he was giving free demonstrations of his powers at the Lambs' Club in New York. He first performed his " While performing a demonstration where he would find the book and exact page of a selected name, picked out from one of the Club's ledgers, he became unconscious. Upon recovering, though weak, he insisted on continuing the trick and became unconscious again. He was taken upstairs where he eventually died. An autopsy was immediately performed on the body. Bishop's mother, on receipt of this news, stated her son had not died, but had merely fallen into a deep catalepsy, as he had done on previous occasions. A letter stated to have been in his pocket forbidding that an autopsy should be performed on him in case of apparent death, was never found.[3]


  3. Tricks That Mystify (incl. Who's Who in Magic) by Will Goldston (1934)