Samuel Laing was born in 1812. He was educated at Cambridge and in 1840 became law clerk in the Railway Department of the Board of Trade. Laing worked with William Gladstone in drafting the 1844 Railway Act.
After leaving the Board of Trade Laing became chairman of the London & Brighton Railway in 1848. Ever since his time in the Railway Department, Laing had supported cheap travel for the poor and was the main figure behind the London & Brighton excursion business. Samuel Laing died in 1897.