Sixteenth-century author John Harington conceived of the idea of the modern flush toilet, or water closet, and installed a working prototype in the palace of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth I. The first patent for a flushing water closet was issued in 1775 to Alexander Cummings.
Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet, although he was a real person and a plumber. However, he did make improvements to the flush toilet and was awarded three patents related to improvements to the flushing water closet during his lifetime. Thomas Crapper is sometimes called Sir John Crapper, but he was never knighted and John was not his first name.