It is any parent’s most unthinkable nightmare to lose a child. To lose two children simultaneously is simply unbearable. This latter scenario happened to John and Florence Pollock in 1957. The beloved children of the couple, 11-year-old Joanna and 6-year-old Jacqueline, were tragically killed when an automobile struck the pair as they walked alongside a road in Hexham, England.
An Unthinkable Tragedy
The circumstances behind the tragic end for the two young girls made their fate even more unpalatable to their parents and two older brothers. The ill-fated girls had been intentionally run down while on their way to Sunday school by a woman who had just “lost” her own children after a heated and acrimonious custody battle.
Prior to leaving her residence that morning, the depressed woman had ingested a large quantity of barbiturates and pain killers. Reports indicate that these medications played a seminal role in the disturbed woman’s rationale that “if she couldn’t have children, no one else should either.”
Investigators said that the troubled driver crossed the lane, jumped her vehicle up over the curb then scraped along a stone wall, running down three children. Two of the three, Joanna and Jacqueline Pollock, passed away before help arrived. Their companion died in an ambulance en route to a hospital. Eventually, the children’s killer was committed to a mental institution.
Coping With the Girls' Deaths
Obviously, the vile and unsettling way in which their beloved daughters died permanently altered the existence of John and Florence Pollock. As is often the scenario in such a traumatic case, each grieving parent chose a coping mechanism for his/her mourning which contrasted sharply with his/her partner’s chosen mechanism. Florence Pollock chose to never speak of the tragedy, finding the loss “too fraught with suffering to think about.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, John Pollock “liked to think about the dead girls, although not necessarily to dwell on how they died.”
Despite the married couple’s divergent methods for coping with the incomprehensible tragedy they endured, it may have been that the pair was given a miraculous panacea to help heal their wounded souls. Unlike anyone else who has ever endured the psychological and spiritual torture of such a loss, it seems that Mr. and Mrs. Pollock may have been granted a reprieve from their suffering.
Twin Daughters Are Born
Seeking to immediately bridge the gaping chasm that had been created in their lives, John and Florence were expecting within the subsequent year. Reportedly, despite vehement opinion to the contrary held by the couple’s doctors, John Pollock staunchly believed that his wife was carrying twins; and he reported this as fact to everyone the couple knew. Intriguingly, when the day for delivery finally arrived, Mr. Pollock was proven correct—while the doctors were proven wrong. Florence Pollock brought a pair of identical twin girls into the world.
The couple named the girls Jennifer and Gillian. And while her freshly reignited maternal instincts prompted the twins’ mother to love her new young ones with all of her spirit, Florence Pollock retained a hole in the core of her being from the sudden and violent loss of her previous daughters. However, miraculously (and mysteriously) the new pair of Pollock daughters proved to fill the void in their mother’s heart; not by merely replacing their predecessors, but, perhaps, by BEING them!
Were the Twins the Reincarnations of Joanna and Jacqueline?
What would become a phenomenon began as a coincidence. Upon her birth, Jennifer was observed to have a series of birth marks on her body which were in identical locations to places where Jacqueline had displayed notable markings. For example, Jennifer was born with a birthmark on her forehead in the exact location where Jacqueline had acquired a scar.
Additionally, in the cases of identical twins, any birthmarks (or lack thereof) are shared between the two infants; however, Gillian shared none of the markings that Jennifer had in common with the deceased Jacqueline. Although, no other uncanny physical similarities were noted between either of the nascent twins and their deceased siblings, a number of striking comparisons began to surface during the former pair’s formative years.
When the twins reached the age of two, an age where the pair could begin to communicate wants and express themselves, curious incidents began to occur.
Asking for Old Toys
One such verbalized want was a request for a number of toys which had belonged to the twins’ deceased sisters. The factor which makes this request remarkable is that the young girls could have had no prior knowledge of the toys in question. The girls’ parents had packed away their previous daughters’ playthings shortly after their passing, and had never brought them back out again. Moreover, the couple was adamant that they had never discussed their deceased children while in the company of the twin toddlers.
Visiting an Old Park
The young girls made a request of their parents a few years later that was positively unsettling. As a preface to this mysterious incident: John and Florence Pollock had moved away from Hexham, in the area of Northumberland, where they had raised (and lost) Jacqueline and Joanna. The parents made this move, to a community called Whitley Bay, when their new twins were not yet one year old. The couple had decided on pursuing a change of scenery and a fresh start, to accompany what was, in essence, a new family. Yet the couple did, when the twins were four years of age, decide to finally make a return visit to their prior community.
While somberly touring this area, Mr. and Mrs. Pollock were stunned to hear the twin girls simultaneously and spontaneously request a visit to a neighborhood park. The two girls could not only describe various features of the park; but, they were able to guide the route to the park as well as any four year-old could be capable of! According to Mr. and Mrs. Pollock, and various researchers who would subsequently investigate the Pollock case, the children had never been to the park in question, or even the community of Hexham, prior to that day.
Mirroring Their Sisters' Behavior and Personalities
Over time, the duo of Jennifer and Gillian Pollock began to take on behavioral characteristics that had been present in their deceased siblings’ personalities. Jennifer seemed to parallel Jacqueline, while Gillian mirrored the behaviors of Joanna. Most notably, as the two matured, Jennifer grew to be extremely codependent on her sister Gillian . . . as Jacqueline had been to Joanna during their brief lives.
A Parapsychologist's Views on the Case
So, what is to be made of the case of the Pollock twins? Renown parapsychologist, Dr. Ian Stevenson, pointed to what he considered the only plausible explanation for the phenomena displayed in the Pollock twins: reincarnation. It should be noted that Dr. Stevenson had long pursued evidence of reincarnation in the Western Hemisphere; well removed from Eastern countries where belief in reincarnation is prevalent, and Hinduism (a religion with the belief in reincarnation as one of its foundational concepts) is ubiquitous. For all intents and purposes, the geographic location of the Pollock family was what initially piqued Dr. Stevenson’s interest.
Could It Have Been a Hoax?
What further intrigued Stevenson and, he felt, justified his position—beyond the traditionally held view of Western ideology as being progressive and non-superstitious—were the beliefs and tenets held by John and Florence Pollock themselves. This seemingly paranormal event occurred in a family that boasted a traditional English upbringing, and held fast to Christian beliefs. By extrapolation, the ridicule and ostracism that the Pollock family would face, nearly precludes the existence of a reincarnation “hoax” to attract attention. As such, Dr. Stevenson’s study reported that the presence of reincarnation had never even occurred to Mr. and Mrs. Pollock before his intervention.
Dr. Stevenson's Continued Research
Dr. Stevenson kept tabs on the Pollock family beginning in 1964, and continuing until 1985. He recorded any new instances of evidence supporting a connection between the twins and their deceased siblings; and kept an amiable relationship with the entire family, in general.
By commending Dr. Stevenson for what it described as his “initial skepticism,” and citing his thoroughly-scientific “investigative methods,” The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry gave a favorable review to Stevenson’s study in a 2002 edition. This nod from a reputable publication granted Dr. Stevenson’s study the rare status of being a study in reincarnation which garnered some scientific credibility.
Criticism of the Reincarnation Theory
While proponents of the reincarnation explanation regarding the Pollock twins feel that nothing else can adequately account for the facts, information that was revealed during subsequent years to the unfortunate event paint a different portrait for critics of the theory.
It was later revealed that John Pollock was, in fact, an ex-Catholic who believed in reincarnation. For her part, Florence Pollock was also an ex-Catholic, but did not share in her husband’s belief. Furthermore, John would later state that not only had his daughters “survived” death; but, that the two had remained close to the family. Additionally, Mr. Pollock reported that on the very afternoon of their deaths, he had a vision of his daughters in heaven.
In future statements, John Pollock went on to reveal that he was unsure whether it was another vision or a psychic premonition which had allowed him to predict the unforeseen twin birth; however, he was adamant that he had known that Jacqueline and Joanna were destined to be “reborn” . . . this time, as twins. It is unclear whether Florence Pollock ever adopted her husband’s stance on the reincarnation question.
Could We Get a Second Chance at Life?
Whether the mysterious “reincarnation” case of the Pollock twins was coincidence, unexplainable, or a staged event by a fervent proponent is uncertain. However, instances of claimed reincarnation are constantly recorded around the world. This gives certain circles food for thought: Do some people get a second go ‘round on the circle of life?
Pat on January 18, 2015:
I firmly believe in reincarnation and I think it wasn't the girls time to go and so reincarnated into the same family.
laymwe01 (author) on August 10, 2014:
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Setab on August 09, 2014:
Good work on this hub, voted up for interesting.
manatita44 on July 28, 2014:
Truly tragic and yet fascinating case. Would be interesting to follow-up with research.