Samuel Laing was born in Edinburgh on 12 December 1812 and died at Rockhills, Sydenham Hill on 6 August 1897. He was educated at Houghton-le-Spring Grammar School and in 1831 he graduated BA as Second Wrangler from St John's College, Cambridge. The following year he began to study law at Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1837. Shortly afterwards he was appointed private secretary to Mr Labouchere, who became Lord Taunton, then President of the Board of Trade. Laing became caught up in the railway-building mania of the 1840s, when he was selected as the Secretary of the newly formed Railway Department in 1842 and then appointed a member of the Railway Commission in 1845. When the commission was dissolved, he resigned his post at the Board of Trade and returned to his practice at the Bar. But Laing later returned both to politics and the railways. He was Chair and Managing Director of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway from 1848 to 1855, and then again from 1867 to 1894. He was elected to Parliament as a Liberal member for Wick in 1852, 1859 and 1865, and for Orkney and Shetland from 1873 to 1885. His political career included appointments as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Minister in India.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.