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By: Alex Postrado
“That’s the unfortunate thing about death. It’s so terribly final.”
Marie Dressler’s character, Carlotta Vance, once said that line in the movie Dinner at Eight from 1933.
But, only decades later, a real-life incident in the town of Hexham in Northumberland, England, seemed to have disproved that.
One fateful day in 1957, two sisters, Joanna and Jacqueline Pollock, were tragically killed in a car accident.
The following year, they were believed to be “reborn” to the same family — this time, as twins, Gillian and Jennifer.
This is the mystery of the Pollock Sisters.
And it apparently asks far too many questions than the world has answers to spare.
Especially, because the shocker of the story deals with the concept and purported reality of reincarnation — a tenet, most common in South and East Asia, that remains debated up to this day.
Meet The Pollock Family
John Pollock was born in the city of Bristol, in 1920.
Raised observing the teachings of the Church of England before eventually adopting Roman Catholicism, he grew up to become a deeply religious person — something that he brought even to the time when he started his own family.
And that family was with Florence Pollock.
Around the 1940s, John met Florence — a member of the Salvation Army, who, upon knowing John for some time, agreed to marry him.
When the two wed, Florence had to leave her religion and convert to Catholicism. The couple then went on with their lives together, later settling in North East England.
An interesting bit about the Pollocks was that they often clashed about their beliefs.
John was a devout Catholic and Florence was somewhat a skeptic.
It was a concept he first came across in a novel he read when he was nine. But, later in his life, he became more and more invested in the idea of transmigration that he allegedly even reached a point when he was already praying nightly for proof of reincarnation to refute doubters.
Despite this, John and Florence’s marriage still sailed smoothly.
Eventually, they had kids, and the family started a lucrative grocery and milk delivery business.
And in 1946, they welcomed their third child, Joanna Pollock — who was soon followed by another daughter, whom they named Jacqueline, in 1951.
The sisters grew up as best friends, with Joanna, taking on the more “motherly” role of the two.
And even with their age gap, Joanna and Jacqueline got along well — enjoying playing dress-up together and putting on performances to entertain their family.
Though throughout their childhood, they were taken care of mostly by their maternal grandmother, the sisters stayed close with their parents, who were then busy tending to their family business.
And just about everything aligned for the Pollocks until one dreadful day.
The Accident that Started it All
On one Sunday morning in May of 1957, in the small town of Hexham, sisters, Joanna, 11, and Jacqueline Pollock, 6, headed to church with their friend, Anthony.
On their way to mass, the three children were fatally hit by a speeding car!
The accident killed the two sisters on the spot, while Anthony died as he was bound to the hospital.
After the results of the investigation surfaced, it was found that the driver of the vehicle — which mercilessly took the lives of the three children — was a local woman under the heavy influence of drugs, including aspirin and phenobarbitone, to name a few.
The woman, according to reports, had just been forcibly separated from her own children. And determined to end her misery, she planned to commit suicide by crashing the car somewhere at full speed.
Locals who witnessed the incident reported having seen the woman driving the car recklessly through the otherwise quiet Hexham streets before slamming into a wall by the sidewalk.
That was right where the vehicle hit the three children who were said to be “tossed into the air like cricket balls“.
Inevitably, the tragic event was covered by the news all throughout Britain, while the suspect was taken into custody and was later admitted to a psychiatric institution.
Proof of Reincarnation?
The accident of the Pollock sisters and their friend left their families utterly devastated.
One can only imagine the pain and sorrow such an incident could bring, and John and Florence definitely shared this heavy emotion — with Florence suffering from depression and John desperately trying to find answers from his faith.
According to accounts, John had a premonition of Joanna and Jacqueline ascending into heaven on the very day of their deaths.
And while Florence constantly wept at the memory of her daughters’ death, John prayed for the girls to be reincarnated — often angering Florence and even almost causing her to file for divorce.
However, their marriage survived.
In a surprising turn of events, just a year after the accident, Florence became pregnant.
That time, John — still sold on the idea of reincarnation — was convinced that his wife will once again give birth to Joanna and Jacqueline — only, this time, as twins.
And he firmly held on to his belief despite valuable genetic evidence pointing to the likelihood of them having a twin pregnancy being very low.
For one, neither John nor Florence had a history of twins in their families. Aside from this, Florence’s obstetrician advised her that she is carrying a single fetus in her womb.
Yet, on October 4, 1958, John’s claims proved to be true!
Florence gave birth to identical twin girls, Gillian and Jennifer.
While the twin birth had already been surprising in itself, a number of succeeding details were even more difficult to believe.
The twins, despite being identical in appearance, had different birthmarks, which was deemed highly unusual.
Jennifer was noted to have two birthmarks — a round, dark one on her left hip and another on her forehead — seemingly mirroring the birthmark Jacqueline had on the same hip, as well as the scar she got from accidentally hitting her head on a bucket once.
Moreover, as the twins became toddlers, even more “evidence” of them, being Joanna and Jacqueline reincarnated, began to show up.
They were said to divide and name their toys exactly like how their deceased sisters did. There were also instances when the twins would ask for their late siblings’ toys as if they, themselves, owned the items — despite the fact that Florence stored them away right after the accident.
Furthermore, despite growing up in Whitley Bay, Gillian and Jennifer both had an immaculate recollection of Hexham, made apparent during their first visit to the area when the twins were aged four.
They knew the names of certain landmarks — like the school Joanna and Jacqueline attended, Hexham Abbey, and even the playground where their departed sisters used to play at!
Aside from all this, John and Florence also took notice of the twins’ behavior.
The twin girls were noted to have similar personalities to Joanna and Jacqueline. Gillian — born 10 minutes earlier than Jennifer — was observed to be protective of her younger sibling, acting more like a responsible older sibling instead of a twin.
Meanwhile, Jennifer took after Jacqueline who depended on Joanna for a lot of things.
They also shared interests with their older sisters in games and food. And they leaned more toward the guidance and affection of their grandmother, instead of their own mother — seemingly mimicking the chemistry of Joanna and Jacqueline with their closest guardian.
Given all this, John was completely convinced that the twins were indeed their dead daughters, born into their family once more.
Florence reported seeing the two seemingly roleplaying the accident — with Gillian holding Jennifer’s head in her hands and saying, “The blood’s coming out of your eyes. That’s where the car hit you.”
And to add to the mystery, the twins also had a deep fear of cars which led to countless night terrors.
Shedding Light on the Pollock Sisters Mystery
In religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, reincarnation is a doctrine about the “cyclic existence of the non-physical essence of a living”.
The belief that when someone dies, their soul transmigrates to another body to start a new life.
When news of the Pollock sisters began spreading around, some people thought of it as compelling proof that reincarnation is real.
The case was once even dubbed as “one of the most convincing” among the others.
So, unsurprisingly, it piqued the attention of Dr. Ian Stevenson, a paranormal psychologist from the University of Virginia.
Stevenson studied the Pollock twins from 1964 to 1985. He even published a book, titled Children Who Remember Their Past Lives, which contained Gillian and Jennifer’s account, along with 14 other stories of supposed reincarnation.
And in the end, he concluded that it is likely that the twins were indeed the reincarnated Joanna and Jacqueline Pollock, due to factors like their personalities, behavior toward each other, mannerisms, as well as the statements from both the twins and their family.
They argue that it is possible Gillian and Jennifer may have learned about their deceased sisters from their environment growing up — a plausible theory since the twins came only a year after the devastating incident when the Pollock family was still coping with the immense grief the loss had brought them.
It is true that both maternal and paternal impression plays out in most children who grew up with their parents and, in this case, John and Florence’s fears may have been passed on to Gillian and Jennifer.
Moreover, British historian Ian Wilson stated that Stevenson’s argument was “fundamentally weak“, mostly because John was a reincarnation fanatic, and thus, “cannot be considered unbiased“.
Nevertheless, Gillian and Jennifer stopped “remembering” their past lives at the age of seven.
They went on to live ordinary lives as adults — unbothered, though mildly skeptical of their “reincarnation” story.
And so, we were left with a gaping doubt about what truly happened in this tragically twisted narrative.
Did Gillian and Jennifer really absorb the lament of their parents?
Did John regretfully pray his long-asked-for proof of reincarnation into reality?
Were the grief-stricken parents only reading way too much into the actions of the twins?
Or were Joanna and Jacqueline truly reincarnated back into their own family?
To this day, no one knows.
“Strongest Evidence In Favour Of Reincarnation”: The Startling Story Of The Pollock Twins In 1957, Jacqueline And Joanna Was Killed In A Car Accident. The Next Year They Were "Reincarnated" Does The Strange Case Of The Pollock Twins Prove Reincarnation Is Real? Pollock Twins (Reincarnation Case) Pollock Twins: Proof Of Reincarnation? Were The Pollock Sisters Reincarnated As Their Own Younger Siblings? Reincarnation: Are The Pollock Twins Proof Of Rebirth Or A Hoax?