Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933) was a British financier, swindler, journalist, newspaper proprietor, populist politician and member of parliament.
Horatio Bottomley was born in Bethnal Green, London, on 23 March 1860. He spent 14 years growing up in an orphanage, and then joined a firm of legal shorthand writers where he learnt something about the court system. His first personal experience of the courts was in 1885 where he personally defended a printing and publishing firm of his from bankruptcy and the fact that substantial funds were missing from its accounts.
He then moved on to promoting Western Australian gold mining projects, some genuine, but others based on misrepresentation and fraud. He then moved on to British stocks. He founded the Financial Times and was its first Chairman as a means of puffing his projects. In 1908 he was charged with conspiracy to defraud, but the chaos of his record systems prevented a conviction, and instead he was forced into bankruptcy in 1912, forcing him out of Parliament where he had been a Liberal MP since 1905.
In World War I he established the patriotic journal John Bull, spoke on many recruiting platforms (taking a large fee for doing so), pressed for a more aggressive prosecution of the war, and attacked anybody he deemed less patriotic than himself. In 1918 he returned to Parliament as an Independent MP (with almost 80% of the vote). He created the "John Bull Victory Bond Club" (a forerunner of Premium Bonds) as a mechanism for small savers to lend money to the Government, receiving prizes rather than interest; again a combination of fraud and mismanagement sank the scheme in 1921. He was charged with fraud, and the following year he was convicted, sentenced to seven years and expelled from Parliament.
A famous story says that a prison visitor found him making mailsacks and asked him "Bottomley! Sewing?" to which he replied "No, reaping". He was released from jail in 1927 and died in penury on 26 May 1933.