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Horatio Bottomley

Horatio Bottomley was born in Bethnal Green on this day in 1860.

He was an MP an all round crook (hmm – sounds familiar).

He entered the Parliament in 1906, was re-elected in 1910, but thrown out for bankruptcy in 1912. In 1918 he was re-elected.

On one occasion he said to the Lord Chancellor, "I shouldn't have been surprised to hear that you had been made Archbishop of Canterbury."

"If I had," replied the Lord Chancellor, "I should have invited you to come to my installation."

"That's damned nice of you."

"Not at all. I should have needed a crook."

He became a famous and popular figure for his patriotic and political activities. He was also well known for numerous Court appearances in libel and other cases, in which he frequently acted for himself, often with success. He was on one occasion described by Mr Justice Henry Hawkins as the ablest advocate Hawkins had ever listened to, as a result of which the judge offered Bottomley his wig.

Bottomley created the John Bull Victory Bond Club, a forerunner of Premium Bonds, purportedly 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 convicted of fraud, sentenced to seven years jail and expelled from Parliament.

A famous story tells that the prison chaplain of Wormwood Scrubs found him making mail sacks and asked him "Bottomley! Sewing?"

To which Bottomlry replied "No, reaping".

Useless but interesting additional fact.

In May 1931, whilst directing his latest play Cavalcade at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Noel Coward, lost a black leather wallet.

Fifty years later, during pre-production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, American actor Henderson Forsythe was rummaging in a storage cupboard when a broken tuba fell on his head. Inside the tuba he found Noel Coward's missing wallet. Curiously, Coward's wallet contained a small photograph of Bottomley.

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