Samuel Plimsoll

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Plimsoll, Samuel (1824–98). Radical MP. Born in Bristol, a congregationalist, Plimsoll was successively a solicitor's clerk, manager of a brewery, and honorary secretary for the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1853 he became a coal merchant in London, gaining an extensive knowledge of coastal shipping. Elected to Parliament for Derby in 1868, he proposed a compulsory load line to prevent shipping accidents and obtained a royal commission on the subject in 1873. His anger at the greed of shipowners who resisted his plans led to his temporary exclusion from the Commons in 1875, but his persistence was rewarded with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876 and the load line soon came to bear his name. Out of Parliament after 1880, he retained his interest in shipping, publishing a pamphlet on cattle ships in 1890, and became president of the Sailors' Union the same year.

Edward Royle

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Plimsoll, Samuel (1824–98) British social reformer. As a radical member of Parliament (1868–80), he was chiefly responsible for the Merchant Shipping Act (1876). This Act enforced government inspection of shipping and required merchant ships to have a line, subsequently known as the Plimsoll line, painted on their hulls to indicate safe loading limits.