Sampson, George Vaughan (1763–1827), clergyman, linguist, survey writer, and agricultural and social reformer, was born in Co. Antrim, though his father, Arthur Sampson, was at the time rector of Templemore, Co. Londonderry. His mother was Mary Mercer, daughter of George Spaight of Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. He had two brothers: the eldest emigrated to North Carolina and inherited property from an early settler, his uncle John Sampson, and the youngest was William Sampson (qv), the United Irishman. It is probable that their sister Margaret married the Rev. John Dubourdieu (d. 1839), also an important memoir writer. George was educated in Lisburn by Saumarez Dubourdieu, and entered TCD in 1779. He graduated BA (1784), was ordained, and became chaplain to the British ambassador to France. He was nominated as master of Derry Diocesan School in October 1790, and was made chaplain to Derry city corporation. In 1791 he was curate of Templemore, and in 1794, resigning the headmastership, became rector of Aghanloo, Co. Londonderry. He was rector there until 1807, when he became rector of Errigal, also in Derry diocese.
Sampson was an accomplished scholar and linguist; his translation of the book of Hebrews was published in 1828 after his death. With interests in chemistry, mineralogy, and botany, he applied scientific principles to observations of the conditions under which his parishioners lived, and (like his brother William) seems to have been motivated by a desire to improve society by reform. Unlike William, George Sampson supported the existing political order; in 1797 he administered the oath of the yeomanry to tenant farmers round Aghanloo. He seems not to have suffered by association with his exiled younger brother, and was highly regarded throughout the north of Ireland, particularly after the publication of an influential Statistical survey (1802) of Londonderry. In this and in his 1814 Memoir explanatory of a chart and survey of the county of Londonderry (for which he received £300 from the Irish Society), he set out his detailed criticisms of the economic and social conditions that caused the poverty, underemployment, and rackrenting of the poor. In particular he cited the role of absentee landlords, including the London companies, the harmful tendency to the subdivision of holdings, and the failure to utilise the county's existing resources. He provided detailed suggestions for reforms to ameliorate conditions, including such ideas as the introduction of decimal weights and measures, the reclamation of bog and slob land, and widespread reafforestation. He also advocated the cultivation of oilseed rape and the establishment of a mill to extract the oil.
His suggestions, some of which may have been derived from his experiences as a young man in post-revolutionary France, led to the setting up of the North-west of Ireland Agricultural Society, and thus to the establishment in 1827 of a school to teach agriculture, the well known Templemoyle seminary. Convinced of the importance of education in general, he founded two schools and recommended that the London companies should pay for education on their estates. His view was that landlords were morally obliged to consider the welfare of their tenants and of society, rather than merely seeking the highest possible profits. Belief in the capacity for improvement of man and of nature underlies Sampson's work, and his influence on Co. Londonderry was profound. The London companies especially were influenced by his observations and recommendations; he supported an 1816 land act to enable landlords to modernise their holdings by enabling them to regain control of estates. After this was enacted, the London companies set reforms in motion. In 1820 Sampson became the first agent of the Fishmongers' Company when it resumed control of its estates round Aghanloo for the first time since the seventeenth century. Both there and elsewhere in the county, he had the opportunity to see some of his ideas put into practice. He was not merely a theorist nor an observer; as well as commissioning in 1823 an ambitious series of building designs for the village of Ballykelly (though these were never carried out), he himself drew up plans for a limekiln, and in 1825 made a register of 23,001 trees in the area. Sampson's map of 1814 was on a larger scale than any earlier map, and his detailed representation and description of the underlying geology of the county are of pioneering importance by any standards.
Sampson married (probably in 1791/2) Hester, daughter of Alexander Lawrence of Coleraine, a distant relative of the Lawrences of India. They had at least five sons and three daughters who, it is believed, all died unmarried; one son became a clergyman in Derry diocese, another succeeded his father as agent to the Fishmongers. A daughter and a son, both in their twenties, died within a week of each other in 1818. Sampson himself died 10 March 1827 and was buried in Aghanloo, where his funeral was one of the largest ever seen.