European Children with Past-Life Memories

It is much more common than generally realized for people – children as well as adults – to have what they feel to be memories of previous lives. There are fewer such reports from Europe than from Asia, but a good number of European experiences have appeared in print since the beginning of the twentieth century. In many of the more developed accounts of this nature, the memories can be confirmed and the previous incarnations identified.

This article presents 51 accounts of past-life memories of European children and compares them to cases from Asia. The length of the intermissions between lives tends to be much longer in Europe, and this may help to explain why there are relatively few European cases and why most of those that are known are less well developed than those reported from Asian countries.

Reincarnation Beliefs and Cases in Europe


Although belief in reincarnation is widespread in the world, it is often presumed to be absent from Europe. This is far from true, however. The Celtic peoples who inhabited Ireland, the Isle of Man, Great Britain, France and much of central Europe before the coming of the Romans and Christianity believed in reincarnation. Julius Caesar noted that the Gauls held that ‘souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded’.1 Nordic peoples also believed in reincarnation and it is featured in an Icelandic saga, the Poetic Edda, in which two of the principal characters are reborn.2 Pythagoras, Plato, Latin writers like Cicero and many European thinkers from the Middle Ages onward affirmed reincarnation.3 The belief appears also among the general populace in the present day. The European Values Survey conducted 2008–10 found that more than 20% of 62,816 respondents from 44 countries professed a belief in reincarnation.4

Past-life memories of children and adults began to be reported in Europe early in the twentieth century, but for a long while received little publicity. Writers on reincarnation were at pains to explain why previous lives were not recalled and pointed to déjà vu experiences and child prodigies as evidence that reincarnation nevertheless occurred. At the same time, an increasing number of examples of past-life memory were coming to light, presented at first in Spiritualist periodicals and books. The French were ahead of the British in this regard, but in the 1930s the British began to catch up.5

Systematic research on reincarnation cases did not start until the 1960s with the investigations of Ian Stevenson. Stevenson did most of his work in Asia, but he looked into European cases also, as reported in his book European Cases of the Reincarnation Type.6 In 1970 Karl Müller published a collection of past-life memories that included many European examples.7 Another important source of European past-life memories is Peter and Mary Harrison’s Life before Birth, reprinted in 1991 as The Children that Time Forgot.8 European cases have been reported most recently by Dieter Hassler in Germany and Titus Rivas in the Netherlands.

This article lists 51 European cases of past-life memory in children. The past-life memories of adults are treated separately. Cases are organized according to the relationship between the child and his (or her) previous incarnation: family (23 cases), acquaintance (three cases), or stranger (ten cases). A sample of fifteen ‘unsolved’  European cases follows. These unsolved cases, in which there is no identified previous person, are included because they are especially well known or have veridical aspects. Elsewhere, Rivas has described additional unsolved Dutch cases he has studied.

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

European cases conform to the same patterns as Asian cases and have the same basic features. Among these are the young age (generally two to four years) at which the children begin sharing their memories. If it is possible to identify the people they are talking about, it usually turns out that their behaviours and personalities are similar to those people. When there is a change of sex between lives, there may be gender non-conforming behaviour. The children may have memories of the intermission period between lives. Some children, like the Italian Bianca Battista, employ foreign languages unlearnt in the present life (an example of xenoglossy). Some express their memories in drawings. The children may have birthmarks and other congenital physical traits linking them to the previous incarnations. Their mothers may have had announcing dreams or apparitional experiences foreshadowing the reincarnations. These features, common to all cases of this type, make it difficult to explain them as contrivances in conformance with cultural demands, as sceptics frequently allege. This is so especially when they develop, as many European cases do, in families with no prior belief in reincarnation.

There are, however, differences between European and Asian reincarnation cases. Most European cases are much weaker phenomenologically and the intervals between lives tend to be longer. Stevenson reported a median of only fifteen months in a series of 616 child cases, predominantly from Asian and Middle Eastern countries.9 The median length of the 26 European solved cases for which information is availble is 24 months, with a range of seven days to over one hundred years. Interestingly, it is much shorter in family  cases (fifteen months) than in stranger cases (thirteen years). With unsolved cases, the intermission length cannot be calculated precisely, but these cases often give the impression of much longer intermissions and have a median of about one hundred years. With such long intermissions, there may well be unremembered or unreported intervening lives, as with the unsolved cases of Olivia. In seven of the fourteen unsolved cases, there are suggestions of previous lives in other countries (international cases), which are unusual in Stevenson’s collection and the published literature as a whole.10 International connections appear in only two of the solved European cases, the family case of Robert, with a death in Belgium and birth in England, and the stranger case of Graham Le-Gros, who recalled dying near Beauvais, France, in the R101 airship disaster, but was reborn in London.11

Reincarnation researcher James Matlock speculates that the longer intermissions in Western cases ‘would allow spirits of the deceased to meet loved ones at their deaths, a Western expectation not shared by the rest of the world. Longer intermission lengths and distances in Western accounts and cases also are consistent with the notion that intermissions are long and widely spaced geographically, characteristic of Western beliefs about reincarnation expressed in systems such as Theosophy and Spiritism and in some respects going back to the ancient Greeks. These features would result in greater contrast between the past and present lives, presenting fewer cues to recall, which might help to explain why Western cases are comparatively rare and why those that are known are so much more difficult to solve than are Asian cases’.12

European Cases with Family Relationships

Alexandrina Samona (Italy)

The first well-attested European case is that of Alexandrina Samona (as her name is usually spelt in English). Her father, a physician, first reported it in Italian medical journals in 1911.

Five-year-old Alexandrina died of meningitis, leaving her mother distraught. Three days after the death, her mother dreamed that she came to her and told her not to grieve because she would be returning as her baby. Three days after that, her mother dreamed the same thing again. The family heard knocks on the door, answered it, but no one was there. They tried to contact the girl through a medium and she responded at once. She said that she had made the knocks and that she would be returning before the end of the year with a twin sister. Her mother became aware she was pregnant and in time gave birth to twin girls. One of the twins looked so much like her deceased sister that she was given the same name. The new Alexandrina was left-handed, her left eye was engorged, her right ear was inflamed and her face was slightly asymmetric – all like her namesake, but unlike her twin. As she grew older, she behaved in many ways like the first Alexandrina. Then one day when the family was planning an outing to Monreale, she said she had already been there and correctly described a scene that the first Alexandrina had witnessed shortly before her death.13

Alfonso Lopes (Portugal)

Alfonso Lopes was born in Lisbon in August 1962. He began to speak clearly at about twelve months of age and at around eighteen months addressed his mother as ‘Dear Mother', as had been the habit of a sister, Angelina, who had died in July 1960 at age seven, after having been struck by a car on a roadway. On one occasion during her short life, Angelina told her mother she wished she were a boy. Late in her pregnancy with Alfonso, his mother dreamed of Angelina, who communicated to her that she would be returning to her, but as a boy. In addition to using the phrase ‘Dear Mother’, Alfonso made a total of nine references to Angelina’s life. He also demonstrated a phobia of motor vehicles and aversions to the place Angelina had been killed and to the cemetery in which she was buried. Although he did not overtly recognize these places when his mother took him to them, he was unhappy and wished to leave there. Alfonso shared Angelina’s interest in sewing but was not notably effeminate as a child. As an adult, he married and had two children of his own.14

Bianca Battista (Italy)

This is another early case, from 1911. It was not investigated by the research community, but has some interesting features for a European case. Bianca never spoke directly about a previous life, but before she was born her mother saw an apparition of a daughter who had died three years prior. She was three months into her pregnancy and wide awake at the time. The girl appeared with a ‘childlike joyousness' and quietly said, 'Mama, I am coming back.' Bianca, when born, had the same physical appearance as her deceased sister and was given the same name. When she was six, she surprised her parents by singing a lullaby that had been a favourite song of the first Bianca’s French governess. The second Bianca knew no more than a few words of French, yet she sang the words with a perfect accent. When her father asked her who had taught her this song, she said, ‘No one. I just know it by myself.'15

Célina (Netherlands)

Célina was an early speaker. At eighteen months, she talked about a red Alfa Romeo that she said belonged to her father; indeed, her father had once had such a car. When she was two years old, she told her mother Natascha that she had been present at her wedding to her father and described what it had been like. She had been there as Natascha’s grandmother Jeanne, a woman who had died more than a year before her birth. When she was three, Célina returned to the subject of the wedding, remarking that unlike the plastic flowers they then had in their home, there had been real flowers at the ceremony. On another occasion, she said to Natascha, ‘I’m your baby, aren’t I?’ Natascha acknowledged that she was, and Célina said, matter-of-factly: ‘Grandpa Henk [Jeanne’s son] is my baby.’ Some of her behaviour, also, was reminiscent of Jeanne. When she first went to the house of her aunt, a house of which Jeanne had been fond and often visited, she knew her way around and immediately felt at home. She exhibited a strong aversion to Grandpa Ger, Jeanne’s husband, with whom Jeanne had not been on good terms, in contrast to Natascha, whose relationship with him was good. Célina also reminded her parents of Jeanne in aspects of her personality, such as her leadership qualities, caring attitude, and creativity.16

Ditta Lorusdottir (Iceland)

Ditta was born in Reykjavik in January 1967. When Ditta’s mother was pregnant with her, her younger sister dreamed that a third sister, Kristin, who had died in November 1947, appeared to her and indicated that she was going to be reborn. Kristin said in the dream that she would have a mark on her head. Ditta’s aunt asked her (in the dream) if this was related to the way she died but she said no, it was from when she was a child. Kristin had fallen and struck her head when she was three years old. The wound bled but was repaired and bandaged by her father, no doctor being available.

At birth, Ditta’s family noticed her strong physical resemblance to Kristin. She had a prominent birthmark conforming to Kristin’s wound on the back of her head. When she was about two and a half, she claimed to have a husband named Einar. This was the name of Kirstin’s husband, but he had remarried after her death, and Ditta’s family had lost contact with him. Ditta did not remember Kirstin’s children and related no other memories about her life. Stevenson, who investigated this case along with Erlendur Haraldsson, noted that the intermission of about nineteen years was the longest in any family case in his collection.17

Einar Jonsson (Iceland)

This is another Icelandic case investigated by Stevenson and Haraldsson. Einar was born towards the end of July 1969. When he was two, he started talking about having another mother and wanted to go to her. He would tell his mother that his other mother was doing various things. He also told playmates at his nursery school that he had two fathers. As he grew older, he related other memories, which, it became apparent, referred to his father’s half-brother, Harald. Harald had been killed when the tractor he was driving overturned, a mere seven days before Einar’s birth. Altogether Einar made thirteen correct and three incorrect statements about Harald’s life, his house, and its surroundings.18

GC (Germany)

This is one of five contemporary German cases reported by Dieter Hassler. When she was three years old, a girl, whose name Hassler gives only by the initials GC, told her kindergarten class that she formerly had been big and had had children of her own. When she was four, she said to her mother, ‘Mum, do you remember when you were little we used to go for walks and you used to count cars?’ This reminded her mother of when she was a teenager and had driven with her parents on the Autobahn motorway, which she found exceedingly boring. They lived in what was then the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and she would count cars from West Germany. G’s mother’s father had died nineteen years before G’s birth19 but this comment made her mother wonder whether G might be remembering his life.

CG made a few other comments that suggested she was remembering the life of her grandfather. She was fond of singing ‘dalli, klick, dalli, klick’, apparently referring to her father’s favourite television programme, Dalli, Dalli, which featured a picture-recognition game called ‘Dalli-Klick’. The programme was cancelled in 1986, well before G’s birth in 2008, and her parents had never spoken about it in her presence. G also asked her mother if she knew ‘Wendelin’s friend’, referring to another of her grandfather’s favourite television programmes. G’s grandfather had sung in a restaurant as a child and G likewise enjoyed singing. G’s grandfather hated to lose at gambling games and G l could not abide losing at board games. G’s food preferences were also similar to her grandfather’s.20

Gillian and Jennifer Pollock (England)

Gillian and Jennifer Pollock were British twins who recalled having been sisters who were tragically run down by a crazed driver as they walked down a road with a friend. The case was investigated independently by Ian Wilson and Ian Stevenson and is the subject of a video documentary. John Pollock, father of Gillian and Jennifer, was a strong believer in reincarnation, a fact that Wilson believes coloured his perceptions, although Stevenson points out that it might well have made him more attentive to details as the case developed. One of the most interesting features of this case is that blood tests showed the twins to be monozygotic (single egg) or identical twins. They shared the same genetic material. And yet, they were in both behavioural and physical respects distinct, consistent with the sisters whose life they recalled. See here for a longer article about this famous case.21

Herbert (Germany)

Herbert is the subject of another case studied by Dieter Hassler. While on a visit to his father’s home when he was three years old, Herbert asked, ‘Where is Aunt Toni?’ Herbert’s mother had not heard of Aunt Toni, who had been his father’s father’s favourite aunt. Herbert’s paternal grandfather had died suddenly of a heart attack at age 53, 21 years before Herbert's birth. He and Herbert’s father had been very close and during Herbert’s mother’s pregnancy, Herbert’s father had had two dreams about him. In the first, he dreamed that he no longer needed to be sad about his father's early death. In the second, he was told that he could now spend the money that was in his father's purse, which he had kept as a memento since his father's death.

As he grew, Herbert demonstrated his identification with his grandfather through his behaviour as well as through occasional statements seemingly triggered by things he saw. When he was so small that he could not yet speak, he would point to a house that had been his great-grandmother's home and say ‘da, da’. When he first saw family photographs of his father's family, he picked out his grandfather’s mother, whom he identified as ‘my mum’. Once when he was three or four years old and was being drive past the cemetery where his grandfather was buried, he commented, ‘I have come back after all’, adding, ‘I have been dead for twenty years.’ Herbert's grandfather had indeed been dead 23 or 24 years at this time. At about the same age, Herbert was playing football (soccer) with his father in the hallway, when he said abruptly, ‘Do you know that I am your father?’ He claimed that a car that his grandfather had purchased not long before his death (a red Ford Taunus) was ‘his’ car. Herbert’s grandfather was an engineer with knowledge of biology, mathematics, physics and chemistry, subjects in which Herbert is interested today.  He no longer recalls his grandfather’s life, however.22

Irma (Italy)

A little girl named Picciota, from Venice, died at age five. A year after her death her eldest sister married. Her first child was a daughter named Irma. Irma looked very much like Picciota and as she grew up it was clear that she had much the same personality and exhibited many of the same mannerisms. From the time she could speak she insisted that she was in fact Picciota, not Irma. Once when her grandmother took her to the cemetery to put flowers on Picciota’s grave, she protested, ‘But I am no longer there. Picciota is Irma. It is me, and you must not cry.’ So saying, she embraced her grandmother exactly as Picciota had done. Irma would refuse to kiss Picciota’s portrait, saying, ‘It is silly to kiss yourself.’23

Jenny McLeod (Scotland)

Jenny McLeod was born in Aberdeen in November 1949. She began to speak coherently when she was one year old, and when she was two, made a series of statements that suggested she recalled the life of her great-grandmother, Bessie Gordon. Bessie had died in February 1948, uneventfully at age 83, about 21 months before Jenny’s birth. Jenny spoke about her memories of Bessie on only a single occasion, sitting on her grandmother’s knee. Her grandmother was feeding her and she said, ‘Do you remember when I used to feed you, Grannie?’ She added, as if by association, some details about the house in which she had lived. The house was near a hill called the Lump and it had its own pier in front, with steps leading down to it. These details were correct, as Stevenson was able to verify for himself when he visited the place. Jenny never spoke about her memories again, but her physique was thought to be similar to Bessie’s and she resembled Bessie in her personality and behaviour.24

Kadjsha Schuster (Germany)

Kadjsha Schuster recalled having been her paternal uncle Friedhelm, who died of a brain aneurysm at age 34. Kadjsha’s mother had been close to Friedhelm and after his sudden death felt that she continued in contact with him. He conveyed to her the sense that he had left something undone and wanted to return. She had been wishing for a third child but after seven years of trying, had all but given up. Still, she sent the thought to Friedhelm that he would be welcome to come back as her child, but if did, he should give her some sign, such as being born on her birthday. Friedhelm replied telepathically that he would try and, if possible, would like to come back as a girl. Kadjsha apparently was conceived soon after this communication, for she was born on her mother’s next birthday, less than ten months later.25

Friedhelm, a firefighter by profession, had a large collection of model fire engines in a display case. He was enthusiastic about Formula 1 and touring car races. When she was only one year old, Kadjsha was crazy about fire engines. She also liked to watch Formula 1 and touring car races on television and preferred to play with cars rather than with dolls. After Friedhelm's death, his brother Mario, Kadjsha's father, hung the medals that Friedhelm had received in the course of his work as a fire-fighter on his wall as a memento. Kadjsha claimed that they were hers and wanted them back.  She once referred to her father as her brother, then acknowledged, ‘Oh, that's my daddy dnow’. Kadjsha also was very attached to Friedhelm’s widow. Once when tried to leave after visiting, she clung to her legs, saying, ‘You have to take me with you. You are my wife.’ On another occasion, she complained as her aunt drove away, ‘Why does she drive away? She is my woman. We are married after all.’ Kadjsha had three congenital moles on her right cheek. After seeing a photo of Friedhelm with three moles in the same place, she remarked, ‘I do not only look like Friedhelm, I am him.’ 26

Kelly Williams (England)

Kelly Williams’ great-grandmother, Nancy Wyatt, died on 4 October 1974, at age 89, while Kelly’s mother was pregnant. Seven months later, on 4 May 1975, she gave birth to Kelly, who later said many things that suggested she had lived previously as Nancy. When she was two, sitting on an aunt’s lap, she asked, ‘Do you remember when you used to sit on my lap like this?’ Her mother and aunt both laughed, but were silenced when Kelly went on describe how her aunt used to wear her hair ‘Cleopatra style’. ‘And I used to comb it for you,' Kelly added. Indeed her aunt had worn her hair that way for a few years as a child and Nancy would comb it for her. Kelly talked about many other things from Nancy’s point of view. She was reminiscent of Nancy also in her diction and behaviour, leaving no doubt in the minds of her parents and aunts that she was indeed Nancy returned.27

Mandy Seabrook (England)

The case of Mandy Seabrook is one of the best known from the Harrisons’ collection, thanks to a video documentary made of it. Mandy recalled the life of her mother’s first daughter, from a failed earlier marriage. The girl suffered from congenital heart disease and died at only five months. One of her lower teeth was starting to erupt from the gums and she had a solitary curl on the crown of her head. She was buried wearing a silver bracelet engraved with roses and crosses she had been presented by an uncle. Her mother was so overcome by her passing that she slipped and almost tumbled into the grave, on top of the tiny coffin.

When Mandy was born, she closely resembled her half-sister, even having a partially erupted tooth and a tuft of hair in the same places. She was assigned the same name, although her parents gave no thought to the possibility of reincarnation at the time. Mandy made her first reference to her deceased sister at two years, when her family chanced to drive by the cemetery in which the baby was buried. Mandy had not been to the cemetery before, but she appeared to recognize it. ‘Look, Mummy!', she said excitedly. ‘That’s the place you put me in the ground that time, and you nearly fell on top of me, remember?’ Mandy went on to describe the silver bracelet inscribed with roses and hearts that had been on her wrist in the coffin. She also recalled that her five-year-old sister had placed a cotton pompom she had made for her under her body in the coffin, unbeknownst to their mother, and despite her wishes.28

Marja-Liisa Kaartinen (Finland)

Marja-Liisa Kaartinen said several things that convinced her mother that she was the reincarnation of another daughter, Eeva-Maija, who had died six months before her birth. When she began to talk, Marja-Liisa repeatedly asked to be called Eeva-Maija. The first time she visited the family’s cabin, she asked about a servant the family had had during her Eeva-Maija’s life but who was no longer in their employ. She spontaneously went to a toybox and picked out the items that belonged to Eeva-Maija. When she was about four, she asked her mother to give her the pram she had promised to Eeva-Maija. She shared with Eeva-Maija food preferences, eating habits and a fondness for the same toys and clothes. She also enjoyed dancing, as Eeva-Maija had, and in fact was dancing before she had learned to walk. She would dance the Charleston, a dance familiar to Eeva-Maija, but which she had never been taught herself.29

Nadège Jegou (France)

Nadège Jegou identified with her mother’s younger brother, who had been killed in a motorcycle accident twelve months before her birth. Most of her statements came in association with things she witnessed. She recognized pictures of her uncle as herself. When she saw her mother pull down a bed that folded into a closet, for airing and cleaning, she commented, ‘I slept there when I was small.’ When her mother replied that she had never slept in this bed, she corrected herself: ‘Before I became small.’ Indeed, this had been her uncle’s bed. Like her uncle, Nadège was fond of sports, would make facial grimaces similar to his and signed her letters with a characteristic pipe-and-smoke design he used.30

Paavo Sorsa (Finland)

Paavo Sorsa gave evidence of having been his step-brother Kalevi, who had been killed by his father, from whom his mother was separated. After trying to strangle him, his father had beaten him over the head with a wooden plank, hitting him four times and fracturing his skull. Kalevi had been about three and a half years old at the time. A few months after Kalevi’s death, Paavo’s mother dreamed that he rang the doorbell, then came in and sat on the window sill. She became pregnant with Paavo shortly thereafter. When Paavo saw photographs of Kalevi, he said they were of himself. He could not understand that they were photographs of another child. Paavo suffered from nightmares as a child and had substantial motor and cognitive difficulties. He was learning disabled and showed lack of coordination in physical activities such as drawing, throwing balls, skating and skiing, consistent with a head injury such as that suffered by Kalevi.31

Richard Williamson (England)

Richard Williamson recalled being his own grandfather, who had died thirteen months before his birth. He made his first reference to his past-life memories at thirty months, when he overheard his parents talking about a wound the man had received when a chisel he was hammering had slipped. The accident had necessitated a trip to the casualty department (emergency room) at the local hospital, where he received four stitches. Richard looked up from his play and remarked, ‘My hand was sore that time.' His mother tried to correct him: ‘You mean your granddad’s hand was sore.’ Richard replied, ‘No, my hand, Mummy.’ He pointed to a spot on his left hand that corresponded to his grandfather’s injury, although there was no birthmark or other scar that could have told him where it was, and added: ‘It was just there, and it was sore, but it’s all better now.’

His parents laughed at his insistence that he had lived before, but Richard continued to identify with his grandfather. A few months after the hand incident, the family moved from Surrey to Northampton, with which city Richard claimed to be familiar, although he had never been there in his young life. He led his mother back to places he said he remembered from when he had resided there as his grandfather.32

Robert (England)

Joan Grant related the story of Robert in her autobiography, Far Memory. She was introduced to the six-year-old boy by his Belgian grandmother. This woman had in her possession an oil portrait of a man that Robert claimed was himself. In fact, the portrait was of his Uncle Albert, his grandmother’s eldest son. Albert had served in the Belgian army but had been killed in action in 1915, when he was 23. Robert had been born in England but was living with his grandmother in Belgium when Grant met him. Robert had many of same habits and mannerisms as Albert. He would call his grandmother by pet names that Albert used with her. He liked and disliked many of the same things as Albert, some of which his grandmother felt amounted to private jokes between Albert and her. Robert’s grandmother had refrained from hanging Albert’s portrait because Robert always acted so oddly around pictures of Albert, she told Grant, but now that Grant had helped her to accept that Robert was Albert come back, she would put it up.33

Samuel Helander (Finland)

The case of Samuel Helander was summarized by Stevenson in Children Who Remember Previous Lives, then reported in greater detail in European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Samuel remembered having been his mother’s stepbrother, Pertii Häikiö, who had died of diabetes at age eighteen, about ten months before his birth. Shortly after Pertii’s death, Samuel’s mother became pregnant with her second child and considered an abortion. Pertii appeared to her in a dream and said: ‘Keep that child.’ On this basis, his mother decided not to have the abortion.

Samuel started to speak at about twelve months and when he was about eighteen months, began to identify himself as Pertti. At first he could not pronounce the r sound and said ‘Pelti’. He would use the first names of his mother and stepfather (his mother having divorced his father and remarried since his birth). He would call his grandmother, Pertti’s mother, ‘Mother’. When he saw photographs of Pertti, he would say they were of himself. On one occasion, he said, correctly for Pertti, that his legs had been in plaster casts before a certain photo was snapped, although there was no evidence of that in the picture. He identified objects that had belonged to Pertti as his own. He remembered having a guitar and searched for it until he found it in a cupboard. He also recognized Pertti’s grave and called it ‘his’ grave. He said that after he died he was taken to a place where there were many coffins, some of them open; indeed, this was true of Perrti, whose body had been carried to a mortuary after his death.34

Sharon Prescott (Scotland)

Although they could not be certain, Sharon Prescott’s parents thought she might have recalled events in the life of her father’s grandfather, who had lived in a different section of the Scottish market town they called home. Once when she was three and half years old and out shopping with her mother, Sharon said, ‘When I was a boy I lived up round the back of the old church.' Her mother passed this off as fantasy but when Sharon said the same thing on a later trip to that area, she asked Sharon to show her. Sharon took her hand and led the way, past a children’s play park and over a couple of roads. There she stopped, bewildered, and said that nothing looked the same. In fact, the old houses had been torn down and replaced by a new housing development. Sharon’s mother was not familiar with the area but her father recalled that his grandfather used to live there. Sharon said that when she had grown to manhood she had ‘worked at a big place down the road past Forbes Farm.’ Forbes Farm had long since passed out of existence but her father’s grandfather had worked at a large bakery at the location Sharon indicated.35

Taru Järvi (Finland)

Taru Järvi, the subject of a Finish case, recalled having been her mother’s first husband, Jaakko Vuorenlehto, who had been accidently run over by a bus three years before her birth. Two years after his death, and a year after she had remarried, Taru’s mother visited Jaakko’s grave and there heard his voice say that he would be returning as her daughter. He gave the date of his expected birth as 27 May. Taru’s mother was then almost forty and was not expecting to get pregnant again, but she did, and Taru was born the following 27 May.

As a young child, Taru said and did several things that indicated a memory of Jaakko’s life. Soon after she began to speak coherently, she said she had been run over by a bus and correctly described how it had happened. When she was about  eighteen months old, she rejected the name Taru and insisted that she be called Jaska, Jaakko’s nickname. Like Jaakko, she had a fondness for horses and disliked school. She had a phobia of large motor vehicles, which lasted until she was nineteen. She preferred boys’ games and had a strong preference for boys’ clothing. Her masculine identification persisted into her twenties, but she eventually married a man. Taru demonstrated a marked antagonism toward her father when she was young, although in adulthood she overcame this and became very affectionate towards him.36

Wilfred Robertson (England)

Stevenson included Wilfred Robinson’s case in European Cases of the Reincarnation Type even though his mother wavered in her convictions regarding the identification. Wilfred made only slight allusions to the life of an elder brother, Thomas, who had died of polioencephalitis two and a half years before his birth. When he was very young, Wilfred claimed that one of Thomas’s books was his own, and when he saw a photograph of Thomas, he said that it was a picture of himself. He told his older brother that he had once pushed him in his pram (which was correct for Thomas) and he spoke about having attended a small school, as Thomas had done, although Wilfred’s own school was much larger. Wilfred’s personality however was different from Thomas’s. He was not as affectionate as Thomas and was distant from other persons, including his mother. This departure from the typical pattern of personality and behavioural traits carrying over from life to life might be attributable to Thomas’s resentment of his mother for having shown him little attention during his terminal illness, Stevenson suggested.37

European Cases with Acquaintance Relationships

Rolf Wolf (Germany)

Dieter Hassler reported this interesting German case. Rolf Wolf is the pseudonym of a boy identified as the reincarnation of a teenager named Mario. Mario had wandered onto the Autobahn and was struck by a car after the car he was diving overturned on an adjacent road. Rolf’s mother saw Mario hit and stopped to assist him. He died in her arms, and that night she dreamed that he cuddled next to her, saying he wanted to be near her. In the dream, she understood this to mean that he wanted to be reborn as her child and was vehemently opposed to the idea, as she was unmarried and had not contemplated having children. The next night she dreamed of Mario again. He reiterated his desire to be reborn as her child and again she resisted. On the third night he appeared once more, standing by a lake where a funeral he said was his own was underway in the distance. This time she relented, but asked him not to come for eighteen months.

Nine months on, Rolf's mother became pregnant after a condom broke during intercourse. Exactly eighteen months after Mario’s death and her dreams about him, Rolf’s mother gave birth to Rolf, who resembled Mario physically. From Mario’s autopsy report, it was learned that he suffered a kidney contusion in the accident. Rolf was born with a urine outflow obstruction that led to kidney congestion and he was outfitted with a catheter. Doctors feared that he would have to go on dialysis for the rest of his life, but fortunately things turned out differently; Rolf’s kidneys recovered and he has been healthy in this respect since he was ten years old. At the age of twelve he began to complain of constant pain in his right knee, where Mario had been injured in the accident. Rolf is, as Mario was, highly allergic to many types of pollen. Mario’s autopsy report revealed that he was drunk but wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, so he may not have been suicidal, as originally thought. Mario was apparently gay, and although effeminate when young, Rolf is now heterosexual, Hassler learned in a follow-up interview with his mother.38

Wolfgang (Austria)

An Austrian boy named Wolfgang, born in 1931, showed himself to be ‘military-minded’ from a young age, although this was not at all a characteristic of his family. Wolfgang would salute troops he saw in the street and he protested when his overcoat was left unbuttoned on a warm day, ‘because an officer is not allowed to wear an unbuttoned overcoat’. He described memories of a previous life as a military officer, prefacing them with ‘When I was big’. Wolfgang gave street addresses at which he had lived and named garrisons at which he had been stationed. One of the street addresses was now the residence of a friend of his governess, and upon enquiry she learned that it had been the home of her friend’s cousin, a general in the Great War who had died fourteen years before Wolfgang’s birth. The general had lived also at the other address Wolfgang gave and he had been assigned to the posts he listed.

Wolfgang stopped talking about his memories at age eight, but he remained passionate about horse riding and loved sport, as had been true of the general. This man had died from a shot to the temple, where Wolfgang had a birthmark. Wolfgang had a fear of small explosions, although not of firearms.39

Wolfgang Neurath (Austria)

A girl named Poldi died in January 1934, at age twenty, of pulmonary tuberculosis. She was bedridden for the last year of her life. Her family believed in reincarnation and she said that if she were reborn, it would be as a boy, and that she would try to give some indication of her return. Wolfgang Neurath was born two months later to a near neighbour, a woman who had often visited Poldi during her illness. She was pregnant at the time and talked about the pram she had purchased for her expectant child. Poldi asked if she could go along (in spirit) when the baby was taken on outings, then added that what she would really like was to be in the pram herself.

Shortly before Wolfgang’s birth, Poldi’s mother dreamed that she was in the family’s garden, watching swallows on a power line. She heard Poldi’s voice say, ‘Mama, don’t you see me?’ Her mother replied, ‘Yes, but which swallow are you?’ Poldi said, ‘I am here,’ and with that, one of the swallows flew in the direction of Wolfgang’s mother’s house. Wolfgang appeared to recognize people from Poldi’s life. The first was her mother, who visited him when he was only eight days old. He awoke from his sleep in the pram, smiled, and reached out his hands towards her, as if in greeting. Once when he was four years old, he went shopping with Poldi’s mother. He accompanied her back to the gate to her house, where he told her, ‘I have to go back over there now. You know I live there now.’ Wolfgang had the same food preferences as Poldi and as a young child enjoyed cutting pictures from magazines, as Poldi had done. He had some effeminate mannerisms but these declined as he aged, and he married and had two children.40

European Cases with Stranger Relationships

Blanche Courtain (Belgium)

The case of Blanche Courtain was first published in 1911 in a Spiritualist periodical, by a writer who interviewed the girl’s father. The story has been reproduced and summarized several times since, including by Stevenson in European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Although no effort was made to identify the previous person of the case, it includes verified memories and may be considered solved.

From time to time, five-year-old Blanche told her parents she was seeing spirits, including those of grandparents who had died fifteen years before she was born. She was ailing, and her parents thought that her visions might be a symptom of her illness, so they consulted a doctor. This man prescribed a medicine, but Blanche refused to take it. Her parents reprimanded her for wasting money, but she insisted that she knew it was not what she needed, because she was a pharmacist. Her parents thought she might be losing her mind, but she insisted she had been a pharmacist in Brussels. She told them the street address of her pharmacy, which she said had a white door. Her parents let the matter drop. Two years later, however, when her older sister was planning a trip to Brussels, they suggested she take Blanche along. Blanche was eager to go, saying that she would show her sister the way to the pharmacy. The sisters went to Brussels, and when they got off the train at the rail station, Blanche walked through the streets until they reached a pharmacy at the address she had given. Its door was white, as she had said.41

Christina (Netherlands)

When Christina was about three and a half, she awoke crying and told her mother she had had a nightmare about being in a big white house with high windows. She had a different family then. It was Easter. Her brothers and sisters were quarrelling, so their parents sent them to their rooms. Her younger brother started playing with matches and set his mattress alight, which caused the house to catch fire. She ran to the balcony of her room, from where she saw her mother and a fireman. They shouted at her to jump, but she was afraid to do so, and was overcome by the smoke. A lady in white appeared, advised her that she had died, and guided her through the burning house. She showed Christina several possible mothers and bade her to pick one. Christina chose a woman with blonde hair who was typing in an office. Christina’s mother recalled hearing about a house fire in which children had perished in the nearby city of Arnhem. She took Christina there and she led the way to a house that matched her memories.

Titus Rivas, who investigated this case, later located a record of the fire in the Arnhem municipal archives. It had occurred at Easter 1973, nine years before Christina was born. One of the children who died in the fire was a young girl matching Christina’s memories. Rivas learned from Christina’s mother, who was a brunette, that at Easter 1973, a time when she dyed her hair blonde, she had been working as a typist in an office. Later Rivas was able to track down one of the deceased girl’s brothers, who confirmed details of Christina’s memories not included in the newspaper accounts and certified that his late sister’s personality matched Christina’s in many ways.42

Diane Brownlea (England)

Diane lived in Darlington, County Durham, in northeast England, but recalled a life in Scotland. One day she dressed up her dolls and carefully packed her toy case, then announced to her mother that she was off to see her grandmother in Dundee. When her mother pointed out that she had no relatives in Scotland, she said it was her grandmother from when she lived before. She would travel by train over the ‘big bridge’ to visit her. About a month later, she explained that she had been with her siblings and father on the train, going to see her grandmother, when they had fallen into the water. Diane’s memories seemed to refer to the Tay Bridge disaster of 28 December 1879. Eyewitnesses to the accident – in which the bridge had collapsed during a storm, taking a train en route to Dundee and points north down with it – described having seen a man with three or four small children aboard. If Diane was one of those children, she was remembering events from about a century before.43

Gladys Deacon (England)

This is another old European case. Gladys Deacon was born in 1900 in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Her parents considered naming her Margaret, but decided against it. As a child, Gladys was fond of the name Margaret, although she could not say why. She had an extreme fear of falling, which she could not account for either. Answers began to come to her at eleven, when her mother took her by train to Dorset. She felt a strong sense of familiarity with an area they passed near Yeovil and suddenly recalled being a young girl named Margaret who had fallen running down a hill, hurting her leg. She had been wearing a long white frock with green leaves on it.

Her mother scolded her for making such a claim and she put it out of mind until some years later when she happened to be in Dorset again. In a cottage not far from Poole, she saw a portrait of a young girl painted on glass. The girl was dressed exactly as she recalled, in a long white frock sprigged with green. In physical appearance, she looked very much like she herself had looked at her age. ‘Why that is me,’ she exclaimed, to laughter. She was told that it was a portrait of Margaret Kempthorne, who had broken her leg running down a hill in the company of two women, one of whom had slipped and fallen on top of her. Margaret never fully recovered from her injury and died two months later. On the back of the glass was an identifying note: ‘Margaret Kempthorne, born January 25th, 1830, died October 11, 1835’. Gladys’s own birthday was 25 January, slightly more than 64 years after Margaret Kempthorne’s death.44

Graham Le-Gros (England)

This is another English case that is likely, although not definitely, solved. Graham Le-Gros was born in London on 31 October 1984. He seemed to recall dying when the R101 airship crashed near Beauvais, France, on 4 October 1930, more than 54 years before his birth. From when he was fourteen months to when he was nine years old, Graham talked about dying when he fell off an airship which had caught fire. He had been grown up at the time, he said. When Stevenson, who investigated this case, asked Graham what his name had been, he said, ‘Probably Graham.' When Graham saw a television program on the Hindenburg, he said that was what the airship had looked like. Stevenson identified the similar R101, the first airship to catch fire, as the more likely match to Graham’s memories. The cook on the R101 was named Eric Graham.45

Helmut Kraus (Austria)

Helmut Kraus was born in June 1931 in Linz, Austria. From the age of about four years, he spoke often of a previous life. He gave the street address at which he had lived then. He claimed that he had been a ‘high officer in the Great War'. In addition to Linz, he  said he had previously lived in Vienna, at an address he recalled as well. As it happened, his mother had a friend who lived at the address in Linz, and she enquired about men who had once resided there. Helmut’s mother’s friend thought that Helmut might be referring to her cousin, an Austrian general who had lived at the Vienna address Helmut gave. Taken to meet the general’s widow, Helmut seemed to recognize her. He had a birthmark on his temple and as an older child began to have headaches. The general had died from a head wound 1918, although Stevenson was unable to locate documents with details of how this had happened.46

Jenny Cockell (England)

Jenny Cockell is unusual in remembering multiple past lives, the two most recent of which she has been able to trace. The most recent life, of a Charles S, came up several times under hypnosis, and she was able to glean enough clues to identify him. When she obtained his death certificate, however, she received a surprise – the cause of death she recalled under hypnosis was wrong. Charles had not died of fever, but had been run over by a lorry outside his home. This made sense of a recurrent nightmare Cockell had had in childhood, of being pursued by a vehicle and struck down by it outside her house. Charles S was killed in October 1945 and Cockell was born nine years later.47

The intermission preceding Charles’s birth also was relatively brief. Charles was born in 1939. Mary Sutton, an Irish woman, died in October 1932, seven years prior. Cockell’s memories of Mary’s life are much more detailed than her memories of Charles S. She wrote about them and her success in tracking down Mary’s surviving children in her book Yesterday’s Children.48 The Mary Sutton story has also been told in a video documentary.

Luna Marconi (Denmark)

Luna’s Italian parents were living in Copenhagen, Denmark, when she was born. When she was three, she told them her name was actually Maria Espina. She was from the Philippines and wanted to go home to visit her father, who owned a restaurant on Highway 54, near the Church of Christ. Luna was fond of bocan, which her parents discovered was a Filipino sweetmeat made with coconut. She said she had met Filipino President Diosdado Macapagal and had given him some red flowers. She had worn shoes for this special occasion.

Luna's story came to the attention of the press and reporters in the Philippines determined that on Highway 54, near the Church of Christ, there had once stood a restaurant owned by an Yves Espina and his wife. Their daughter Maria had died of fever at the age of twelve. Maria Espina had been chosen to present flowers to President Macapagal when he visited their town, for which honour her parents had purchased her a pair of shoes. Neither Maria’s date of death nor Luna’s date of birth are recorded by Sybil Leek, who included this case in her book, Reincarnation: The Second Chance,49 but the intermission between them cannot have been very long. Macapagal was president of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965 and Leek’s book was published in 1974.

Nicola Wheater (England)

The story of Nicola Wheater is another which has been told in a video documentary. One day Nicola asked her mother why she was a girl, rather than a boy, as she had been ‘when Mrs Benson was my mummy’. Nicola could not recall what her name had been then, but she remembered that her father worked on the railway and that they lived in a little house near the rail lines. The house was gray stone, a middle house in a row of four houses joined together. There were fields behind the houses, where she played with her dog Muff. She related vivid memories of how she went exploring the neighbourhood with Muff. Her mother used to warn her about going down to the tracks, but she ignored her and went there anyway. One day she was playing on the tracks and was hit by a train. She was taken to hospital, where she died.

Nicola told her story so often and consistently that finally her mother took her to the village she remembered, although neither had been there before. Nicola showed the way to the house she had been describing. In the parish church, Nicola’s mother discovered records of a Benson family. The father was a railway plate-layer. The Bensons had a son named John Henry, born 1875. However, John Henry did not appear along with the rest of the family in the 1881 census, suggesting that he had died by then. Although we are not given Nicola’s date of birth, this is another case in which the intermission could well be over 100 years.50

Nina (Italy)

This case is recorded only briefly, by Ralph Shirley in the 1930s, but has interesting features. A little girl named Nina (age not given) insisted that her name was Rosa. She told her mother that she was not her real mother, and recited the address where she had lived before. Her mother later took her to that place, where they found that there was a family who had lost a daughter named Rosa. Nina recognized Rosa’s mother, ‘and the affair ended with a scene of mutual recognition in which the child threw her arms around the neck of her former mother – if we may so term her – in a paroxysm of affection and joy’. In commenting on this case, Karl Müller noted that although the intermission length is not reported it ‘is obviously within a few years’.51

Unsolved European Cases

Angela Mahoney (Ireland)

Angela Mahoney was born in Cork, in the south of Ireland. When she was 22 months old, her parents moved to Poole in Dorset, England. The family had never been outside Ireland before; indeed, Angela had never been outside Cork. Yet the first time her mother took her out in Poole, and they passed Barclay House, a large bank building, Angela became very animated. ‘Look, Mummy, that’s my hospital,’ she shouted out wildly. ‘That’s where I was a nurse.’ Her mother tried to explain that it was a bank, not a hospital, but Angela was insistent that it had been a hospital when she was there ‘before’. She went on to say, ‘When I was a nurse I always came down this road with my long dress on and my nurse’s hat.’ Every time she passed Barclay House she said the same things, and as she grew older she told her parents more and more about the life she remembered.

The Harrisons looked into Angela’s claims and discovered that Barclay House had been constructed as a workhouse in 1838. It had employed nurses even before being converted to an infirmary in 1900. Angela’s memories could not be related to any specific person, so the exact length of the intermission is unknown, but it could have been one hundred years or more.52

Arnar (Iceland)

When he was between four and eight years old, Arnar spent summers in a rural part of Iceland, helping to tend cows. Part of the area in which the cows grazed was covered by small ponds that were partially grown over by tall grass. On one occasion when he was with the cows he was overcome with a series of visions that he felt related to an experience in Greek or Roman times, about two thousand years before the present. In these visions, he saw himself as a prominent man whose life was in danger for political reasons. He fled to the countryside in a horse-drawn chariot and was hiding in tall grass, most of his body submerged in water. Spears and arrows were being thrown in his direction. One struck him in the chest and he died. The visions were more vivid than his normal daydreams and fantasies and haunted his mind for years.53

Cameron Macauley (Scotland)

Cameron Macauley’s is a well-known Scottish case that was investigated independently by Jim Tucker and Tricia Robertson. Tucker’s investigation was the subject of a video documentary. Cameron, who was born in Glasgow in 2000, claimed to remember living in a house on the island of Barra, apparently in the 1960s or 1970s. He said he had three siblings, talked about planes landing on the sand near his house, and gave many other details about life there. When taken to Barra, he seemed to know his way around and recognized a house which met his description. When asked how he knew it was his house, he replied, ‘’Cause that was the Robertsons’ house and I was part of the family.’

Tucker traced the Robertson family, whose summer home the house had been. Cameron’s memories did not fit the Robertson family, however, and Tucker declared the case unsolved.54 Tricia Robertson (no relation), however, learned that the Robertsons had had a caretaker family living in the house when they were not resident there, and suggested that the boy Cameron recalled had been was a member of this family. Unfortunately, this possibility has not been followed up for verification and the case remains unsolved.55

Carl Edon (England)

The case of Carl Edon is another famous case which has been the subject of a video documentary. Carl recalled having been a 23-year-old German named Robert who died when his Messerschmitt bomber crashed through the window of a British building during World War II. Carl, who was born in Middlesbrough, England, in 1972, had extremely blond hair and blue eyes, in contrast to other members of his family. He would stand erect, with arms at his sides, and demonstrated the characteristic Nazi salute and goose step march. He produced many drawings of German aircraft, swastikas, military insignia., and badges.

The case was investigated independently by Stevenson and the Harrisons, but they were unable to trace anyone fitting Carl’s memories.56 One possibility was the father of the wife of Carl’s father’s brother, a German Air Force pilot who had been killed in the Blitz, but the family would not cooperate with Stevenson’s investigation.57 Recently, a historian claims to have identified the airman and the documentary presents the case as solved. However, the identified man is 24-year-old Heinrich Richter whose Dornier crashed when it hit a barrage balloon rather than a window, details inconsistent with Carl’s memories.58

Gayle Woodward (England)

Gayle Woodward of Liverpool recalled living before as a lady of the manor, apparently during the eighteenth century. She was only two when one day when, as they finished lunch in the kitchen, she said to her mother, ‘I will have my coffee in the lounge, please, Mummy.’ Her surprised mother asked if she imagined herself to be a lady. ‘Yes, of course,' said Gayle, who went on to describe the large house in which she had lived. ‘The big house with lots of steps coming down from the door. The one with the big rooms and tall roofs, remember?’ Her mother did not recall anything of the sort. Her family had a lot of helpers, one of whom kept their coach in immaculate condition, Gayle recalled. The coachman sat on a high seat up on the top at the front, from which he drove the horses. Sometimes one horse pulled the carriage, and sometimes two. Her favourite horse a black stallion named Gypsy, but he never pulled the carriage. Sometimes the carriage was sent to collect people who visited the house for the many parties they hosted.

Gayle recalled that she used to wear long, pretty dresses. She had a fit when her mother wanted to cut her hair, which she insisted on wearing long, as she had worn it before. Gayle was fascinated with old-fashioned jewellery, especially old brooches, which she collected from jumble sales. By the age of seven, her memories had faded, although she continued to carry herself with a demure, ladylike sense of dignity unusual in a small child.59

Gaynor Marsh (Isle of Man)

When she was pregnant with Gaynor, her mother Margery dreamed that she saw the baby she was carrying. The child age-progressed from birth to toddlerhood, with a face Margery would later recognize as Gaynor’s. Then when Gaynor was four months old, and sleeping in her crib in the corner of her parents’ bedroom, Margery had a more elaborate dream in which she felt herself approaching a house in which a young mother was preparing a meal for her husband and young daughters. From the appearance of the clothes and house furnishings, she judged the scene to be from the seventeenth century. She felt intensely drawn to the woman. Her perspective pulled back from the doorway as if she were backing down a tunnel, then her attention became focused on one of Gaynor’s eyes in the crib. At this point, Margery turned, saw herself lying asleep on her bed, and suddenly awoke in her body.

Gaynor began talking about a previous life when she was two years old. Her first comment came when her mother took her for the first time by a cemetery close to their home. She became very excited, jumped up and down, and spoke her first complete sentence: ‘This is where I was born!’ After this she talked often about being a mother with two young daughters and berated Margery when she felt she was not being treated as well as she had treated her own children. Margery is convinced that the family she saw in her dream is the one Gaynor remembers.60

Gedeon Haich (Hungary)

This case is highly unusual in its claims by a European boy to recall having lived before as a member of a tropical tribe, in West Africa or perhaps South Asia. Imaged memories did not come to him until he was six or seven but before that he drew pictures of people with dark skin tones. He told his mother that one day he had gone out hunting and had thrown his spear at a tiger. Unfortunately, he wounded the animal, but did not kill it. He recalled it springing at him, but nothing after.

Gedeon said he and his people lived in circular houses with conical thatched roofs they built for themselves. They carved dugout canoes to sail on a nearby river and hunted with spears and boomerangs. Gedeon demonstrated behaviours consistent with such a life. He was adept at paddling on rivers and climbing trees. He played a large jazz drum with unusual rhythmic patterns and told his mother, ‘Do you see, Mama, that is the way we could send signals and messages to each other over great distances.’ Gedeon felt an attraction to Africa, but Stevenson, who investigated this case, pointed out that if he was recalling an African life, he must have used the word ‘tiger’ to refer to a lion or leopard, as tigers are not native to Africa.61

Jasper Steiger (Germany)

When he was three years old, Japser Steiger made fifteen statements about a former life in Germany, under the the Hitler regime. The memories started when his mother took him to the toilet late one night and asked him to be quiet, so as not to wake others in the home. Jasper replied that he used to live in a place where he had to pee very quietly, against a piece of paper, to muffle the sound. After this, from time to time he mentioned other things he had recalled. He said he said that he had been a Jewish boy. After his father was arreted by the Nazis, he and the rest of the family had gone into hiding. Once he had faced a firing squad, but had managed to escape by jumping through a window. He had survived the Holocaust and died as an old man.

Jasper also talked about his memories of the intermission period between his death in that life and his present life. He asserted that his mother in that life was his mother again in his present life, and that he had chosen to return to her. He stated that one had a choice of whether to reincarnate or not. Jasper is unusual among children with intermission memories in his claim that one has a task to fulfill in one’s Earthly life. Several people might be entrusted with the same task, which might concern one’s entire society, not only one’s personal goals.62                

Jonathan Pike (England)

At three and a half years of age, Jonathan Pike moved with his family from Hulbridge to the Chalkwell area of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. The first time his mother took him to the local park, he told her that he used to come there in his previous life. A short while later, he recognized a house as one in which his wife Angela used to live. He had another house in Chalkwell, but could not remember where. He pointed to Earl’s Hall Motors and said that he had worked there as a mechanic. He identified a certain crossroads as the spot his daughter had been killed and thereafter talked about her frequently. When he saw his mother ironing, it reminded him of ironing his previous mother had done. He told his father that his previous mother had taught him to put creases in his trousers, a comment that his parents found specially curious, as his father normally wore jeans round the house and his mother sent his good trousers to dry cleaners when they required pressing.

In investigating this case, the Harrisons determined that Earl’s Hall Motors was the only garage in Chalkwell which employed a mechanic; the others were filling stations only. Because Jonathan did not recall his name nor the address of his residence, they found it difficult to check records, but they did speak to a long-serving police officer who recalled a girl being killed thirty years before at the intersection indicated by Jonathan.63

Julie Tomlinson (England)

Julie Tomlinson was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, once a centre of witchcraft in Britain. Northampton was the site of witch trials in 1612. Julie did not claim tohave been tried or put to death but talked about having participated in witchcraft and from before her second birthday drew many pictures of witches and their activities. She informed her grandmother that when she had lived before as a witch, she had drunk blackbirds’ blood. She described how she and her friends had lit large fires in the woods and had killed sheep for sacrifice. Her family did not try to suppress her stories, but neither did they ask her questions about them, out of fear of what they might hear.64

Justine Shillito (England)

One sunny afternoon in the yard at her home in Reading, Berkshire, three-year old Justine turned to her mother and said, ‘When I lived in Africa, we had sunshine like this every day.’ Controlling her shock, her mother asked her what her name had been then. Justine said that it had been Mary. Over the next few weeks, she told her parents other things about her life as Mary. She had had two brothers. Her mother was named Ann; her father was a farmer. They lived in a large white house and owned many chickens and dogs. The weather was always hot and dry. When it was very hot, she went for a soak in a pool in the garden.

Her mother was assisted by a woman called Daisy who was ‘very fat and black with lots of little wooly curls in her hair’, Justine said. They also had a black house-boy called Tom-Tom. Although Daisy and Tom-Tom lived with the family, they had their own quarters in a hut at the far end of the garden. She and her brothers used to gather eggs from the chicken every morning and take them to Daisy to cook. Justine recalled that Tom-Tom liked mealie, which she herself did not care for. Mealie is a term used for a mixture of maize and potatoes consumed by the native people of South Africa and this detail suggested that Justine was describing a life in that country. She was very fearful of ‘baubies’, evidently a reference to boerbees, Afrikaner cattle, an especially imposing breed with long horns, which are left to run wild in South Africa.65

Mandy Richards (England)

The identity of the person Mandy Richards recalled having been is unknown but this case has important verified details. On drives from their home in Wales to visit Mandy’s aunt in Norfolk, she and her parents would pass an old derelict shack by the side of the road. Mandy was only two years old on the first occasion, but when she saw the shack, she yelled out excitedly, ‘Oh look, Mummy, that’s where the old man made all the rings!’ When asked to explain, she said that she and an elder sister Sarah used to pass by this shack, and her sister would hold her up so that she could see through a window in the back. There were two panes on the window, but the bottom one was cloudy, which is why Sarah held her up. Inside was a bearded man who pounded away at silver and women who placed the items he produced in boxes.

Each time they passed this way, Mandy told the same story, so finally her mother had her father stop the car so they could have a look. They walked round the shack to the back where, sure enough, they found a window whose lower pane was frosted but whose top pane was clear glass. Further investigation by the Harrisons determined that a silversmith had worked in this area in 1868. Since we know nothing about the life of the child Mandy recalled having been, we have no idea of how long the intermission was in this case, but it could be one hundred years or more.66

Olivia (England)

Jim Tucker described the memories of Olivia in Return to Life. Tucker does not say where Olivia was born, but she was British, so it is likely that it was England. Olivia spoke about two past lives, but Tucker describes only one, presumably the earlier. Olivia placed this life in 1787 or 1789 and picked out several English coins from that period. Her name was Daisy Robinson, she said. She lived in a village with a few shops where one could purchase bread, cheese and meat. She used to shear sheep and make blankets from the wool. She sang ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ without having been taught it. Tucker discovered references to the song in 1725 and 1730; it was evidently first published in a book that appeared around 1744, so would have been known at the date Olivia claimed to have lived.67    

Teuvo Koivisto (Finland)

During her pregnancy with Teuvo, his mother dreamed that she was standing in a line of prisoners. As the line began to move forward, she heard someone say, ‘Take shelter under the straw.’ She then escaped from the line and heard a man say, ‘The baby you are expecting is a Jew, and I will save your life.’ With that, the dream ended. Although Tuevo’s family was Lutheran, one of his mother’s ancestors had been Jewish. When Tuevo was three years old, he described being in a concentration camp. He had been taken along with others to a ‘bathroom’ where personal items such as eyeglasses and golden teeth were removed. He and the others were undressed and ushered into a ‘big furnace’ where bodies were piled one on top of another. Gas began spilling from the walls and he could no longer breathe. Around the time he first related these memories, Teuvo himself started to have difficulty breathing. A doctor who was consulted determined that he did not have asthma, but his respiratory problems persisted intermittently for several years before they resolved.68

Therese Gay (France)

When she was only three months old, Therese Gay said her first word, ‘Aroopa’, which was determined to be a Sanskrit word meaning ‘liberated from matter’. She started to speak coherently at thirteen months, but seemed to have difficulty speaking in French. She called her father ‘Daddy’, using the English word, and routinely placed adjectives before nouns rather than following them. At the age of two, when playing at shops with her mother, she declared the cost of an item to be ‘three rupees’. Eight months later, she began to talk about ‘Bapoo’, a nickname for Mahatma Gandhi used by persons close to him. Her parents knew nothing of the life of Gandhi. Once when her mother donned a beret with an insignia, Theresa told her that she looked like a soldier. Her mother subsequently learned that Gandhi lived in South Africa for some years and was there during the Boer War, when a similar hat had been worn by Highlanders. Theresa talked about having gone horse-riding with Bapoo.

When she was four, Theresa saw a portrait of Paramahansa Yogananda and informed her parents that she knew him from when he was with Bapoo. It turned out that Yogananda had spent time with Gandhi in South Africa, circa 1935. Theresa often sat in the yoga position. She renounced meat-eating but was fond of a dish made with rice and minced almonds, known to be one of Gandhi’s favourites. Karl Müller, who investigated and reported this case, observed that since Theresa was born in 1950, the intermission would appear to be no longer than about fifteen years.69

James G Matlock


Barrington, M.R. (2002). The case of Jenny Cockell: Towards a verification of an unusual ‘past life’ report. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 66, 106-12.

Brownell, G.B. (1949). Reincarnation (2nd ed). Santa Barbara, CA: Aquarian Ministry.

Cockell, J. (1993). Yesterday's Children: The Extraordinary Search for My Past Life Family. London: Piatkus Books. [Reprinted 1994 as Across Time and Death: A Mother’s Search for her Past Life Children. New York: Simon & Schuster.]

Cockell, J. (2008). Journeys through Time: Uncovering my Past Lives. London: Piatkus.

Delanne, G. (1924). Documents pour sevir a l’étude de la réincarnation. Paris: Éditions de la B.P.S.

Grant, J. (1956). Far Memory. New York: Harper & Row.

Haraldsson, E., & Matlock, J.G. (2016). I Saw a Light and Came Here: Children’s Experiences of Reincarnation. Hove, UK: White Crow Books.

Harrison, P., & Harrison, M. (1991). The Children That Time Forgot. New York: Berkley Books. [First published 1983 as Life before Birth, Futura Publications.]

Hassler, D. (2011). Kadjsha Schuster.  In Indizienbeweise für ein Leben nach dem Tod und die Wiedergeburt: Band 1: Spontanerinnerungen kleiner Kinder an ihr "früheres Leben." [Circumstantial evidence for life after death and rebirth / Volume 1: Spontaneous memories of young children of their "former life."] Aachen, Germany: Shaker Verlag.

Hassler, D. (2013). A new European case of the reincarnation type. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 77, 19-31.

Hassler, D. (2023). Three-year-old boy remembers the persecution of Jews in Hitler’s Germany and the afterlife. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 87/1, 22-36.

Head, J., & Cranston, S.L. (1967). Reincarnation in World Thought. New York: Julian Press.

Lancelin, C. [c. 1922]. La vie posthume. Paris: Henri Durville.

Leek, S. (1974). Reincarnation: The Second Chance. New York: Stein and Day.

Matlock, J.G. (2019). Signs of Reincarnation: Exploring Beliefs, Cases, and Theory. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield.

Müller, A. (2015). Forscher finden neuen Fall eines Kindes mit Wiedergeburtserinnerungen in Deutschland.

Muller, K.E. (1970). Reincarnation Based on Facts. London: Psychic Press.

Osborn, A.W. (1937). The Superphysical. London: Nicholson & Watson.

Rawat, K.S., & Rivas, T. (2021). Reincarnation as a Scientific Concept: Scholarly Evidence for Past Lives. Hove, UK: White Crow Books.

Rivas, T. (2004). Six cases of the reincarnation type in the Netherlands. Paranormal Review 29 (Jan.), 17-20.

Rivas, T. (2020). Dutch children with past-life memories. Psi Encyclopedia. [Web post, last updated 2 April 2021.]

Robertson, T.J. (2013). Things You Can Do When You're Dead: True Accounts of After Death Communication. Guildford, Surrey, UK: White Crow Books.

Rochas, A. de (1911). Les vies successives: Documents pour l’étude de cette question. Paris: Bibliothèque Chacornac.

Shirley, R. [1936]. The Problem of Rebirth: An Enquiry into the Basis of the Reincarnationist Hypothesis. London: Rider.

Stevenson, I. (2001). Children who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation (rev. ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland.

Stevenson, I. (2003). European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland.

Tucker, J.B. (2013). Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children who Remember Past Lives. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Wilson, I. (1981). Mind Out of Time? Reincarnation Claims Investigated. London: Victor Gollancz. [Reprinted 1982 as All in the Mind: Reincarnation, Hypnotic Regression, Stigmata, Multiple Personality, and Other Little-Understood Powers of the Mind. New York: Doubleday.]

Yeats-Brown, F. (1936). Lancer at Large. London: V. Gollancz. 


  • 1. Julius Caeser, Gallic War 6.14, trans. W.A. McDevitte & W.S. Bohn.
  • 2. Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 45.
  • 3. Head & Cranston (1967), 187-386.
  • 4. Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 96-97.
  • 5. Rochas (1911); Lancelin (1922); Delanne (1924); Shirley (1936); Yeats-Brown (1936); Osborn (1937).
  • 6. Stevenson (2003).
  • 7. Muller (1970).
  • 8. Harrison & Harrison (1991).
  • 9. Stevenson (2001), 120.
  • 10. Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 229-35.
  • 11. Grant (1956), 148-50. Another international connection occurs in the earlier two Jenny Cockell’s two solved past lives, which involved a move from Ireland to England. Her more recent life passed in England, where she herself was born (Cockell, 1993, 2008).
  • 12. Matlock (2019), 187.
  • 13. Stevenson (2003), 23-27; Lancelin (1922); Shirley (1936), 43-56.
  • 14. Stevenson (2003), 108-14.
  • 15. Stevenson (2003), 22-23.
  • 16. Rivas (2020, Célina).
  • 17. Stevenson (2003), 133-38; Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 49-50.
  • 18. Stevenson (2003), 126-33; Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 46-49.
  • 19. G’s grandfather died at age 48 on 30 October, 1989. G was born on 2 December, 2008.
  • 20. A. Müller (2015). This case summary is based on an English translation supplied by Hassler.
  • 21. Stevenson (2003), 89-93; Wilson (1981), 19-28.
  • 22. This case was first published in 2012 Hassler’s web site, This summary is based on an English translation furnished by Hassler.
  • 23. Shirley (1936), 52-53.
  • 24. Stevenson (2003), 55-59, 65-168.
  • 25. Friedhelm  was born 23 January 1962 and died on 18 April 1996. Kadjsha was born on 6 February 1997, her mother’s birthday.
  • 26. Hassler (2011), 157-62.
  • 27. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 47-52.
  • 28. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 19-27.
  • 29. Stevenson (2003), 138-43; Muller (1960), 68-70.
  • 30. Stevenson (2003), 93-99.
  • 31. Stevenson (2003), 148-52.
  • 32. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 118-22.
  • 33. Grant (1956), 148-50.
  • 34. Stevenson (2001), 73-75; Stevenson (2003), 152-58.
  • 35. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 95-101.
  • 36. Stevenson (2003), 143-48.
  • 37. Stevenson (2003), 74-77.
  • 38. The main, original report on this case is Hassler (2013). Additional follow-up information is given on Hassler’s web site, (case 6) . For more on this case, see
  • 39. Muller (1960), 65-66.
  • 40. Stevenson (2003), 100-5.
  • 41. Stevenson  (2003), 28.
  • 42. Rivas (2004), 18; Rawat & Rivas (2021), 88-91. See also here for additional information about this case.
  • 43. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 84-89.
  • 44. Stevenson (2003), 51-55.
  • 45. Stevenson (2003), 86-89.
  • 46. Stevenson (2003), 105-8.
  • 47. Cockell (2008), 267-73.
  • 48. Cockell (1993). Cockell’s account of tracking down May Sutton was followed up by Mary Rose Barrington (2002).
  • 49. Leek (1974), 36-37.
  • 50. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 11-18.
  • 51. Shirley (1936), 53; Muller (1960), 68.
  • 52. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 32-40.
  • 53. Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 53-56.
  • 54. Tucker (2013), 57-58.
  • 55. Robertson (2013), 107-14.
  • 56. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 41-46; Stevenson (2003), 67-74.
  • 57. Stevenson (2003), 72.
  • 58. Haraldsson & Matlock (2016), 258-60.
  • 59. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 77-80.
  • 60. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 63-69.
  • 61. Stevenson  (2003), 114-26.
  • 62. Hassler (2023).
  • 63. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 58-62.
  • 64. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 81-83.
  • 65. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 53-57.
  • 66. Harrison & Harrison (1991), 129-32.
  • 67. Tucker (2013), 144-49.
  • 68. Stevenson (2003), 158-64.
  • 69. Muller (1960), 66-68.