James Whitaker Wright was a company promoter and swindler, who committed suicide at the Royal Courts of Justice in London immediately following his conviction for fraud.
16 Facts About Whitaker Wright
Whitaker Wright was born in Stafford, and spent his early years in various parts of England with his father.
Whitaker Wright was instructed in Latin and Greek and was taught how to use a printing press.
Whitaker Wright was the elder brother of John Joseph Wright, who invented the reversible trolley pole, transmitting electricity from an overhead wire to the motors of a tram or trolleybus.
Whitaker Wright made a fortune by promoting silver-mining companies in Leadville, Colorado, and Lake Valley, New Mexico, although none of the companies made money for the shareholders.
Whitaker Wright returned to England, and promoted a multitude of Australian and Canadian mining companies on the London market.
Whitaker Wright called some of these stocks "consols", the term used by the British government for state bond issues that were solid and reliable.
Whitaker Wright loaded the directorships of his companies with Peers of the Realm; for instance, the Chairman of the London and Globe Company was the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, a former Viceroy of India.
Whitaker Wright sought to make a place for himself in late Victorian English Society, buying the Lea Park estate in Surrey, which he renamed Witley Park, and building a large mansion.
Whitaker Wright owned the yacht Sybarita which beat the yacht Meteor before the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Whitaker Wright became a friend and financial adviser to Sir James Reid, the personal physician to Queen Victoria.
Why Whitaker Wright sought to get involved in the company is contentious; he was a mining engineer, not a construction or railroad engineer.
On 26 January 1904, Whitaker Wright was convicted of fraud at the Royal Courts of Justice and given a seven-year prison sentence.
Whitaker Wright committed suicide by swallowing cyanide in a court anteroom immediately afterward.
In 1890 Whitaker Wright purchased an estate named Lea Park between Godalming and Haslemere, Surrey, and the adjacent South Park Farm from the Earl of Derby.
Whitaker Wright began to develop his new properties as a single estate, Witley Park, creating three lakes, the largest of which covered fifty acres of farmland.