To aid one-time enemy

Here’s another item from the photo page of the April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, this time featuring a former millionaire who had fallen on hard times.

It’s accurate to say that Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933) lived life large. Among other things, he was:

  • A newspaper proprietor, co-founding the Financial Times and John Bull, among others.
  • A member of Parliament for the Liberal Party between 1906 and 1912, and an independent between 1918 and 1922.
  • A speculator who made a fortune in Australian gold mining shares, which enabled him to live a lavish lifestyle, including a number of mistresses discreetly stashed away.
  • A tireless pro-war propagandist during the First World War, making over 300 speeches on behalf of the war effort, and becoming enormously influential as a result.
  • A swindler, whose fraudulent Victory Bonds scheme led to his being imprisoned in 1922 for five years, which effectively ended his career.

Reuben Bigland was a businessman from Birmingham who joined forces with Bottomley in 1913. Together, they organized sweepstakes and lotteries based in Switzerland that were suspected of being dubious. In 1921, Bottomley sued Bigland for libel and charged him with blackmail and extortion; Bigland was acquitted, and the facts revealed at the trial led to Bottomley’s eventual imprisonment.

If Bigland had actually offered a cottage and a pound a week for life to his former enemy, he wouldn’t have needed to provide them for long: Bottomley passed away a little over a month after this photo appeared. His obituaries stated that he was a man of considerable natural ability ruined by greed and vanity.

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