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Morland, Samuel

1. Dates
Born: Sulhamstead Banister, Berkshire, c.1625
Died: Hammersmith, Middlesex, 30 Dec. 1695
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 70
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
Thomas Morland was rector of Sulhamstead Banister.
No explicit information on financial status, though it is highly suggestive that Morland went to Cambridge as a sizar.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Cambridge
Winchester College, 1639-44.
Cambridge University, Magdalene College, 1644-53; B.A., 1648; M.A., 1652.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist, Anglican
He appears to have been reared an Anglican. He definitely embraced the Puritan cause during the Civil War. His career after the Restoration would have been impossible had he not conformed.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Hydraulics
Possibly a case could be made for listing mathematics, because Morland devoted considerable attention to calculating machines nad published tables to ease calculations. However, though I will list this under technological involvements, I do not consider it participation in the discipline of mathematics.
Much of Morland's effort after 1660 went into pumps and hydraulics.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government, Patronage
Secondary: Academia, Miscellaneous
Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1649 to at least 1653.
On two foreign embassies, 1653, 1655. On the second he was Commissioner Extraordinary to the Duke of Savoy on behalf of the Waldenses, a mission of some importance to Cromwell.
Assistant to Secretary Thurloe, 1654.
Appointed gentleman of the privy chamber, 1655.
Under the Interregnum Morland did very well, earning about £1000/year according to his own account, which seems inflated. Because he committed no major offenses and performed services for the royalists (primarily warning Charles of a plot to kill him), he survived the Restoration well enough, but he was not equally prosperous. He did get a pension of £500, which he sold upon hearing a rumor that it would be revoked. He did eventually obtain a number of official positions: Secretary to the Commissioners for Ireland, 1668--no terminal date and no salary mentioned; Commissioner of Appeal in Excise, 1669, with a salary of £200 per annum; Commissioner of Excise, 1672, with a salary of L500.
The King granted him an annuity of £300 in 1672, and two pensions (£400 and £200) in 1678. I have the impression that he never saw anything of the annuity, but both James and William honored the two pensions, which he received until his death.
Appointed Master of Mechanicks to the King, 1681, on the occasion of his success in raising water from the Thames to Windsor Palace. He received a gift at the time, but no salary is mentioned in connection with this title.
Morland invented a new pump that attracted a lot of attention. He had an arrangement with an artisan who made and sold Morland's pumps; a schedule of prices, the first similar schedule for a mechanical device that is known, exists. I list this under Miscellaneous.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
Oliver Cromwell employed him on two foreign embassies, and in general he flourished under the Protectorate. Morland dedicated his History of the Evangelical Churches in the Valleys of Piemont, 1658, to Cromwell. I hve not looked at the book, but the topic was of interest to Cromwell and important to his reputation, so this is a significant dedication. In 1656 Morland became Clerk of the Signet, with a salary of £150 plus fees he collected for sealing documents.
Apprently Morland warned Charles of a plot to kill him, and Charles II granted him a full pardon in 1660. He was knighted at the same time, and created a baronet a little later. He received a pension (which he soon sold). Later he received an annuity from Charles and still later, appointments, and ultimately a pension. He also received gifts from Charles on an irregular basis. Morland dedicated his Tuba stentoro- phonica, 1671 to Charles. Nevertheless Morland was always disappointed with his rewards, and his whole life appears to have been one long effort to gain preferment from Charles.
In his autobiographical sketch Morland states explicitly that he turned to mathematics and experiments (his phrase) to attract the king's attention. He was always careful to demonstrate his inventions, especially his pump, before the king. In 1681 his pump performed spectacularly at Windsor, raising water (carefully colored with wine to make it visible) from the Thames and shooting it forty feet more into the air.
As a result of the pump, Charles sent Morland to Paris to help Louis XIV raise water to Versailles. Morland was less of a success in Paris, though Louis did ultimately reward him with a handsome gratuity, and Morland dedicated his Elévation des eaux, 1685, to Louis.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydraulics, Instruments, Mechanical Devices, Applied Mathematics, Military Engineering
Raising water was always Morland's central occupation. Early in the Restoration he tried to make a machine that exploded gunpowder (in effect the first internal combustion engine) to create a vacuum into which water would be sucked. Later he worked on a steam engine and at one point applied for a patent, but this also did not work out. However, he did construct a force pump using a piston that, among other things, raised water from the Thames to Windor Palace. The French did not choose to adopt his pump for the Versailles water works. He apparently did build a system, with his pump, to supply water to the garden of Lord Arlington, and he constructed the water works in his own garden.
The speaking-trumpet attracted a lot of attention for a time. I don't know how to categorize it.
Morland built two arithmetical machines and later a third machine to do trigonometric calculations. He also published tables to facilitate computations.
He designed a new capstan to weigh heavy anchors.
Morland translated a work on fortification, and he designed a new gun carriage.
He designed two different barometers--a balance barometer and a diagonal barometer intended to expand the scale for easier reading.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50) , 13, 965-70. W.E.K. Middleton, "Sir Samuel Morland's Barometers," Archives Internationales d'histoire des sciences, 15 (1962), 343-51.
  2. H.W. Dickinson, Sir Samuel Morland: Diplomat and Inventor, 1625- 1695, (Cambridge, 1976). This is easily the best source on Morland; it seems unlikely to be replaced.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J.O. Halliwell, A Brief Account of the Life, Writings and Inventions of Sir Samuel Morland, (Cambridge, 1838).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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