19 November is World Toilet Day. So let's hear it for the men who invented the modern toilet. In 1596 Sir John Harrington invented a flushing lavatory with a cistern. However, the idea failed to catch on. However, in 1775 Alexander Cumming was granted a patent for a flushing lavatory. Joseph Bramah made a better design in 1778. In 1883 a Mr. Ashwell invented the vacant/engaged bolt for public toilets.