Titus Bottomly came from a long line of farm labourers gone bad. In fact, when the local constabulary heard of his birth, it was said the entire staff of two let out a sigh in anticipation of a predicted corresponding rise in petty crime.
Such was the reputation of the Bottomly clan in Gobbler's Crotch, Suffolk. As is the way with such things, Titus at first seemed like any other country toddler – a right bully chap. But as the years passed, his charming, yet rambunctious nature evolved, to coin Mr. Darwin's term, into something a bit more unruly. Some people say that things started to turn for the worse for young Titus after his thirteenth birthday when he was accused of tying the left foot of his frightfully dim-witted cousin Alfie to the axle of an ageing landau parked up next to the local livery. Upon being apprehended by Constable Shortblock, Titus seemed more bemused than full of remorse for causing young Alfie to spend the rest of his life with one leg six inches longer than the other. Though it did spare Alfie military service, it also ensured he would forever walk in circles unless attended. Later on in life, Titus became less bemused and more truculent each time he was clapped in irons for offences that were judged to be both irritating and profane. It was bound to happen, but eventually, local Justice of the Peace, Caracticus Fopp, seemed to have had enough of the young man and was determined to change his ways. Titus was apparently caught, in flagrato, with Justice Fopp's goose Melvina. In order to spare the dignity of Melvina, Fopp ordered Titus to leave Gobbler's Crotch immediately, and never to return. After two years working as a handle-turner and axle greaser for a travelling circus, he was spotted by Erasmus Thump, who was gazing wistfully at the quality of attention that Titus lavished on the wagon axles under his care. Erasmus convinced the wayward Titus that his skills would be better employed greasing his bits and bobs back at his workshop. It became obvious that Titus had a knack for spotting ways to prolong the reliability of mechanised equipment and proved to be a perfect assistant to the rising Thump. And Erasmus proved to be about the only person capable of managing the volatile nature of his young assistant's constitution. Many people familiar with the operations of the Phantom Manufacturing company have said that if Erasmus Thump was the brains of the operation, Titus was its strong right arm. Many of those same people were less charitable to the foppish Enoch Podsnap, saying, “as he earned his position in the saddle, then he must have been the buttocks of the operation!” Oh dear.