Compliant actuation is an indispensable element for safe physical human robot interaction. However, there is a lack of devices, which can integrate the high power density of hydraulic actuators with intrinsically safe mechanisms. This drove the development a new type of hydraulic magneto-rheological piston. This device includes a novel toroidal array of magnetorheological valves in its head. In previous studies, the system performance was evaluated only as a traditional damping system. Now, the piston is connected to a pump to create a hydraulic compliant actuator. This novel compliant piston is capable to control the piston speed and force independently by using the pump and electromagnet voltages respectively. In this way, different combinations of these parameters can be used to achieve diverse system properties; e.g. low response time or energy efficiency. Several experiments are conducted to evaluate its performance, including force, friction, speed, and step response. The results display the potential of the devices to be used as an active system for compliant hydraulic robotic applications. They also hint to the possibilities to improve by using a more sophisticated control system for its speed and force.