Samuel Morland

Portrait of Morland by Peter Lely, 1645

Sir Samuel Morland, 1st Baronet (1625 – 30 December 1695), or Moreland, was an English academic, diplomat, spy, inventor and mathematician of the 17th century, a polymath credited with early developments in relation to computing, hydraulics and steam power.


The son of Thomas Morland, the rector of Sulhamstead Bannister parish church in Berkshire, he was educated at Winchester College and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he became a Fellow in 1649.[1] Devoting much time to the study of mathematics, Morland also became an accomplished Latinist and was proficient in Greek, Hebrew and French – then the language of culture and diplomacy. While a tutor at Cambridge, he first encountered Samuel Pepys who became a lifelong acquaintance.


Further information: Waldensians § Piedmont Easter

A keen follower of public affairs, he left Cambridge and entered public service. He undertook a trip to Sweden in 1653, and in 1655 was sent by Oliver Cromwell on a mission to Italy to protest at actions taken against the Waldensians by the Duke of Savoy. He remained in Geneva for some time in an ambassadorial role, and also wrote a book: The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont (1658).


While serving as secretary to John Thurloe, a Commonwealth official in charge of espionage, however, Morland became disillusioned with the Government of the Commonwealth, allegedly after learning of a plot by Sir Richard Willis, Thurloe and Richard Cromwell to assassinate the future King Charles II. As a double agent, Morland began to work towards the Restoration, engaging in espionage and cryptography – activities that later helped him enter the King's service.


On 18 July 1660 he was created a baronet and given a minor role at court, but his principal source of income came from applying his knowledge of mathematics and hydraulics to construct and maintain various machines. These included:

"A new Multiplying Instrument" invented by Morland in 1666

Personal life and family

From 1677 he lived in the Vauxhall area of central London, where he made improvements to New Spring Gardens which later became Vauxhall Gardens. In 1684 he moved to a house in Hammersmith.

Morland married three times:

There are monuments to two of Morland's three wives in the nave of Westminster Abbey.[6]

He began to go blind, losing his sight in about 1692. Three years later, on 30 December 1695, he died and was buried, on 6 January 1696, in St. Paul's Church, Hammersmith.

See also


  1. "Morland, Samuel (MRLT645S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Rosen, William (2010). "A Great Company of Men". The Most Powerful Idea in the World. New York: Random House. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4000-6705-3.
  3. Georgi Dalakov (6 April 2013). "The Calculating Machines of Sir Samuel Morland". Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  4. Christopher Howse (16 October 2012). "Some people always look on the blight side of life". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  5. Marshall, Alan. "Morland, Sir Samuel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19282. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. UK. "Carola and Ann Morland". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 2 October 2015.

External links

Baronetage of England
New creation Baronet
(of Sulhamstead Banister)
Succeeded by
Samuel Morland
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.