Jonathan “Jono” Harry Coleman, who died in 2021, was an English-born Television presenter, DJ, Writer and Comedian. He was known for his career in both Britain and Australia. In January 2007, he had left the UK to be near his 81-year-old mother Sylvia, in Sydney, Australia. He worked in radio there until his death in July 2021, aged 65, from prostate cancer. 

In 2005 Jono took part in the UK ITV series ‘Have I Been Here Before?’ hosted by Phillip Schofield. In this series celebrities had the chance to be regressed to a past life by Hypnotherapist Andrea Foulkes. Their past life experiences are then investigated by Jules Hudson, a historian and archaeologist, to see if these accounts can be verified.

Speaking before the session got started he said, “I think I am sort of a healthy sceptical but I also believe in certain things… The only ailment I have from a past life is being fat. Obviously whoever it is, it’s not me, it’s not my fault”.

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Once regressed Jono sees a life of a pressganged young man called James Porter from Portsmouth. He was forced or tricked into being on a naval supply ship bound for the Caribbean around the year 1740. His duties included cleaning and climbing the rigging. At some point he is flogged (whipped) for some indiscretion. The voyage does not go well and the ship is badly damaged in a storm. The sails are torn and the masts are broken. There is no food and he knows they will likely die. He is calm when he knows it’s the end and realises he is going to a better place.

Speaking immediately after the session he said, “It was pretty bizarre. I feel like I have been travelling… I definitely feel like I was on board a ship. You kind of hear the creaking of the wood and you hear the sails and you feel sea air”. He goes on to said, “The fighting for food thing I kind of relate to I guess. It might have some relevance to me being a lover of food”.

Jules Hudson explored the account and confirms that impressment or pressganging was common in the 18th Century especially in Britain. The description of life on board was also typical and being whipped or flogged was the common punishment on board ship.

Also his research shows that the British navy was at war in the Caribbean at this time in a conflict called the War of Jenkins ear. This war was a conflict between Britain and Spain over trading rights from 1739 to 1748, mainly in New Granada (the Spanish Empire in northern South America, roughly modern day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela) and in the Caribbean Sea. Most of the fighting was done by 1742. Its name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858, refers to Robert Jenkins. He was the captain of a British merchant ship, whose ear was cut off by the Spanish coast guard when they boarded his ship to search for contraband.

Fascinatingly, when Jules research Jono’s name he was able to find a 1721 baptism records for a James Porter, whose mother was called Elizabeth from a place just outside Portsmouth.

Talking about the experience he said, “The memories were vivid in places, some bits were quite clear and when you tried to zero in on perhaps the name of the ship, or what they were wearing, or what the cat and nine tails [a type of whip] was really like there were slight sort of blocks”.

Also when reflecting about this hunger in that life and being overweight in this life he said, “Having to fight for your food, it’s kind of one of the things I had to get over on Celebrity fit Club, was finishing my kids food. If my kids leave leftovers then I would always find myself finishing them”.

Finally when asked if he believes in past lives now, Jono said, “I think so, yeah. I think we have all been here before. Some of us block it out and don’t want to know about it and other people, I guess, are adventurers and willing to open up their minds and experience it”.