“Gotta hit the john!”
You’ve heard this from every dad, or dad-adjacent man, you’ve ever come into contact with at least once. It’s a curse middle-aged men are forced to contend with. But who is John, and what did he do to deserve having a toilet named after him?
He was Sir John Harington, reader, and he earned the namesake fair and square. (Fun fact: Kit Harington, our beloved Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones,” is a very distant cousin.)
One of Queen Elizabeth I’s many god-children, Harington lived in the late 16th through early 17th century as a writer. A scandalous writer, at that, which is how he got the nickname of the “Saucy Godson,” known for his risque poetry and other naughty works that often got him temporarily exiled. But he was a jack of all trades, if you will -- he’s also famous for designing England’s (note: not the world’s) first functional, flushing toilet. He installed that first toilet in his own home (finder’s keepers), and a few nobles got on the shortlist for their own.
After he invented the toilet, he wrote a poem filled with political innuendo about it, which -- spoiler -- got him exiled again. But when the Queen wanted her own flushing toilet at Richmond Palace in 1569, he was invited back, as he was the only one who knew how to install it.
So, whenever a new household got ahold of this wondrous toilet, they knew exactly who to thank -- which is likely why we still reference Sir Harington today.