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Life after death? The Mary Sutton reincarnation : Mystery Files

Updated on October 29, 2012

Life after Death?

This is the story of Jenny Cockell, a registered Chiropodist (Podiatrist) from Northamptonshire in the UK. Jenny has hit the headlines recently because she has a remarkable belief, a belief that many would find incredible - some would say impossible. Jenny Cockell believes that she has lived before, and says that she is the reincarnation of an Irishwoman called Mary Sutton who died 62 years ago.


This strange story began for Jenny when she was only a child. She described herself as a nervous and withdrawn child that suffered with a strange recurring dream of Mary's death, with memories of a multi-paned window in a brightly lit white room that felt far from home. She would often wake up sobbing because of the vivid memories of "Mary's death". Not so much because of the death itself, but because of her fears - one might say near panic - for the eight children that she was "leaving behind".

When at play, her favourite games always seemed to allude to the domestic chores that were part and parcel of "Mary's" life. She reports how she would enjoy sweeping out her room and tidying away her toys far more that she enjoyed playing with them. Another of her games was "baking bread" in which she would make bread by mixing grass seeds with water. Like many children, Jenny was also artistically inclined, and would spend happy hours drawing maps of the Irish village that Mary had once lived in.

Jenny described herself as a solitary child who lived for the most part,in a "dreamlike" state of mind. Her dreamy nature did her no favours when she went to school, where she was marked out as a "slow learner", despite the fact that she possesses a high I.Q. and is now a member of MENSA, the "genius" society.


Although Jenny's memories of Mary's life were incredibly vivid and realistic, she still referred to them as just dreams. It was some years later, in 1988 - when Jenny was married with two children of her own - that she first experienced hypnosis, and it changed her world.

Under trance, she became Mary “I cried as she cried ....I knew her pain as my own ...I was Mary, and the past had become very real. I could smell the grass on the slopes outside a large farmhouse, and I breathed in the fresh spring air ... I seemed to be free to wander through the places I saw — tangible, vivid places. I felt the wind in my hair; I could touch and smell the air as though I were there”.

Present-day Swords Road in Malahide, Co. Dublin, where Mary Sutton and family once lived.
Present-day Swords Road in Malahide, Co. Dublin, where Mary Sutton and family once lived. | Source

Search for her past life.

The hypnosis seemed to suggest that these were no mere "dreams" - Could this be something more? could this be evidence for reincarnation?

She was determined to find out. And so began a quest, an unrelenting period of investigation and research. Jenny consulted maps of Ireland and as she pored over them, she was brought back again and again to the village of Malahide in Co. Dublin. More research revealed that in the village, on Swords road, once lived Mary Sutton - Her Mary.

Excitedly, she travelled over to Ireland and to the village. Although some things had changed, there was also much that she recognised from her "former life". The jetty that she remembered often waiting on was there, but now constructed in concrete, and not the wooden structure she recalled. The general layout of the village was just as she remembered with the butcher shop occupying the exact place it stood in her hypnosis recollections.

Convinced that Mary's children were still alive, she set out to find them. She took out advertisements in the Dublin Evening Post and the MENSA magazine, and sent out questionaire after questionaire in order to aquire the knowledge she sought. The research seemed to pay off and produced some surprising results.

Jenny Cockell with her "son from a previous life" Sonny Sutton (Now deceased)
Jenny Cockell with her "son from a previous life" Sonny Sutton (Now deceased) | Source

Voice from a previous life.

One of Mary's children that Jenny was able to track down was 75 yr old Sonny Sutton, an Irishman now living in Leeds in the UK.

Jenny telephoned Sonny and spoke to him at some length. She was able to describe to him, the story of his own childhood. This was no vague tale, but a diary of his childhood that was replete with details only a mother could know. When the phone call was over, a rather shell-shocked Sonny Sutton turned to his wife and said "'I think I've been talking to a ghost ... I'm sure I've just been talking to my mother.'

That phone call led to a meeting between the two. Sonny said of that meeting "'I didn't know what to think ... We are all Catholics, and Catholics don't believe in reincarnation. But when she came up and I saw her get out of the car, I could see my mother in her. There was a bond between us from the beginning.'

Following many hours of talking and reminiscing, Sonny has now come to accept that Jenny is the reincarnation of his mother Mary. He was able to explain many half-remembered incidents that continued to perplex Jenny, and told her how Mary had actually died in childbirth and how his abusive drunkard father had sent his brothers and sisters away to be looked after by various institutions and convents following her death.

A past life and family

Jenny spurred on by this success continued to search for the other children. Sonny's brothers Christy and Francis were the first to be found, then in 1990, following another ad in the Dublin Evening News, Jenny made contact with Betty (Elizabeth) - the baby who's birth resulted in the death of Mary.

Betty had been brought up by her uncle and aunt, but was never told this and had believed for the past 60 years that they were her mother and father. Despite a pleasant childhood, she had always suspected that something was not right between her and her "mother", 'There was something stand-offish about her, never the closeness there should be between mother and daughter.'

The next of the children to be found was Phyllis who was only eight years old when she was taken away to the convent. She was astonished to discover that she had been living only a mile away from her sister Betty for thirty years - They both used the same shopping centre.

The end of a chapter

Jenny's driving aim was to bring her surviving "children" together again. a task in which she seems to have succeeded admirably. She is now a firm family friend of Betty who was of course too young to have had any memories of her mother Mary.

Francis and Christy, prevented from believing in reincarnation by their Catholic faith nevertheless believe that their mother is "working through Jenny", who is regarded as their "Second Mum". Phyllis believes that her mother's soul has transferred to Jenny, and says 'I feel I'm protected when Jenny is there,' Sonny, of course, believes that Jenny is the reincarnation of his mother, but all are unanimous in their gratitude that Jenny was there to re-unite the family.

Jenny tells her story

Jenny has since become a successful author following the publication of her first book "Across Time and Death: A Mother's Search for her Past Life Children", in which she tells the story of what she believes to be the reincarnation of Mary Sutton.

A TV movie adaptation of Jenny's book, was aired by CBS in 2000, with Jane Seymour taking the title role. In the movie, however, Jenny Cockell's character was no longer English, and was re-written as an American citizen called "Jenny Cole," .


Submit a Comment
  • purrworld profile image

    Charutha Mohan T 

    5 years ago from kerala, india

    I believe in reincarnations.. It feels good to know about stories that confirms my beliefs. Very nicely written. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it,

  • Hankscita profile image


    5 years ago from Florida

    Excellent piece

  • fpherj48 profile image


    7 years ago from UpstateWestern,New York

    Gaizy......So interesting. You have introduced me to this story and "Jenny" for the first time. I am fascinated by this and will now read her book. Thank you for this wonderful tale of reincarnation......UP++

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Yes girlonafarm, it would be a bit freaky wouldn't it?

  • girlonafarm profile image


    7 years ago from Texas

    Very interesting hub! I don't know how I would react if someone told me they were a reincarnation of my parent :/

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Thanks mizjo. Cases such as Mary Sutton always provide food for thought and I doubt whether they will ever be satisfactorily explained.

  • mizjo profile image


    7 years ago from New York City, NY

    This certainly proves the power of mother-love, that even sixty years after her death, Mary Sutton was able to find a vehicle to reunite her cruelly separated children.

    Whether or not she inhabits Jenny's body, there will always be different opinions about. But that she could work in and through Jenny, cannot be disputed.

    A very interesting hub, Bill; sharing.

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Thanks Leafy Den. There is indeed so much that we don't know.

  • Leafy Den profile image

    Leafy Den 

    8 years ago from the heart

    Thank you for this fascinating story. It just highlights how there is so much that we don't know. I wonder if Sunday School and religious upbringing can shut off one's connection with their past lives. We are taught to believe we live one single life and that our existence is linear but how does anyone really know this?

    Rated up and interesting!

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Thanks Sun Pen 50 - Interesting to hear the Buddhist perspective on this phenomenon.

  • Sun Pen 50 profile image

    Sun Pen 50 

    8 years ago from Srilanka

    Gaizy, Thanks for a nicely written hub. In these parts of the world (I'm from Srilanka and am a Buddhist), Rebirth, is matter of fact for majority of people and it is almost a known thing rather than a mystery. As rebirth is collectively accepted by a majority among us, just as the God is accepted by Christians, Moslems and other Theists, people are not shy to tell if they have experiences of remembering their past lives. "Jathaka Potha", Book of births, Which is an ancient book describes 550 previous births of Buddha. up/useful

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Thanks for your kind words lone77star. If the day ever dawns when we know everything, it's going to be a pretty boring existence.

  • lone77star profile image

    Rod Martin Jr 

    8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    More things, indeed, @Gaizy. Shakespeare knew what he was talking about.

    I have the book, and your portrayal, here, was spot on. Beautifully written. Well worth linking to.

    I've never experienced anything quite so profound as that felt by Jenny, but I did have two vivid visions while I was writing a novel. In both, I had a different body--it seemed the main character in my novel. The second of these visions (the room growing dark and reality replaced by an ancient memory, or so it seemed), such powerful emotion welled up inside me that I found tears pouring down my face. I had thought such descriptions merely exaggerations. But tears were flowing like a river at the discovery in that memory that my beloved was still alive.

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    @ Amanda Severn - It certainly does. To quote the bard "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 

    8 years ago from UK

    I've read Jenny Cockell's books, and they're very compelling. It certainly makes you wonder, doesn't it?

  • Gaizy profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

    Thanks Sparkster - I'm glad that we don't know everything - I love a good mystery.

  • sparkster profile image

    Marc Hubs 

    8 years ago from United Kingdom

    Very interesting indeed. It just goes to show how certain phenomena is not taken seriously. I wonder how many people there are out there that have had experiences similar to this.

    I imagine that many of them wouldn't want to come forward for fear of ridicule.


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