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Who Invented The Toilet?

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We may take the invention for granted, but the toilet is something many of us would have a hard time learning to live without. Public sanitation systems were invented long ago, but when was the toilet invented? Thank the Queen Elizabeth I and her Golden Age, but more importantly, Sir John Harrington, whose illustrations for the a machine that would later become the toilet that can be seen today. The story of the toilet takes us back to 1596.

Sir John Harrington, inventor of the flush toiletSir John Harrington, inventor of the flush toilet. He devised what was then called “water closet” for his aunt, Queen Elizabeth I (right).

Why was the toilet invented?

The toilet was created for Sir John Harrington’s aunt, Queen Elizabeth I. Harrington called his design for what we call a toilet, a “water closet”, and his water closet was installed in Queen Elizabeth’s castle in 1596.

Parts of the Toilet

The original toilet, or water closet, had a knob on a chain that had to be pulled in order for the water in the toilet to be released from the bowl. Underneath the bowl, there was a basin or collection bowl that had to be collected, emptied, and cleaned often. It is not the more sanitary and pleasant way for removing waste that we know of, but the idea has only been improved from Harrington’s original design.


Over time, many inventors improved Harrington’s original water closet by improving the pipes that were attached to the bottom, adding a chain instead of a knob, and improved pipes and flush system that built upon the original toilet. By 1896, Thomas Crapper began to sell toilets in the way that we know them today. Crapper saw the importance and necessity of the toilet, and he used his admiration for the product to help promote and sell the toilet.

The Future of Toilets

Harrington’s invention is without a doubt, one invention that would be hard to live without. People even speculate that inventors will continue to develop upon Harrington’s original water closet by improving the piping, water flow, and water waste.

Toilet paper

For some people, you can’t use the toilet without the toilet paper. So, naturally you would ask, who invented the toilet paper?