Samuels, Arthur Warren (1852–1925), lawyer, was born 19 May 1852 in Dublin, second son of Arthur Samuels, of Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire), Co. Dublin, and Katherine Samuels (née Daly) of Mornington, Co. Meath. He was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, and TCD, where he graduated with first-class honours in classics, modern literature, history, and political economy. At Trinity he joined the College Historical Society in session 1873–4, along with Edward Carson (qv) and Oscar Wilde (qv), and was elected to the general committee of the society in 1878. He missed out on the auditorship in the same year, but before his college career had ended he had been awarded the coveted gold medal. A keen sportsman and a noted oarsman, he was a member of the yacht club of Dublin University. On leaving college he embarked on a career in the legal profession and was called to the Irish bar in 1877. He soon acquired a steady practice, specialising in matrimonial cases. He also acted as professor of personal property in King's Inns (1891–4). Although called to the English bar in 1896, he never sought to practise there.
He was appointed permanent counsel to the post office, where his principal duty consisted of prosecuting defaulting officials. His slow and methodical speaking style meant that he excelled more as a chamber lawyer than in court practice. Politics began to consume his interests and he was publicly critical of the then conservative government's Irish policy. W. E. H. Lecky (qv) used Samuels's rigorous intellect, employing him as his election agent, but Samuels's ultimate ambition was to be elected in his own right. When Lecky resigned (1903) he contested the vacant Dublin University seat as a liberal unionist, but was defeated by J. H. M. Campbell (qv). He continued to articulate his political ideas, mainly through the auspices of the Social and Statistical Society of Ireland, which he served as president (1906–8). His contributions to the proceedings have been seen as an instance of the rising intellectual standard of the society. In 1907 he presented a highly technical paper on Irish public finances, and in 1912 he repeated the thrust of his argument in a collection of essays by unionists opposed to home rule. Under the heading of ‘constructive’ criticism of home rule, he argued that the ‘best possible system for Irish financial reform is adherence to the principles of the act of union’ (Rosenbaum, 271).
When Campbell was appointed lord chief justice in 1916 and Carson chose to run in Belfast, Samuels's path to parliament was cleared and he was elected to represent Dublin University in 1917. Also in 1917 he was appointed solicitor general to the Irish administration, and in 1918 attorney general. This caused some concern among his constituents, who wondered if his acceptance of these posts implied acceptance of the government policy of home rule. Once in parliament he took a prominent part in movements for Irish private bill procedure reform, and on Irish financial questions. He continued to produce pamphlets on such topics and against the arguments of the home rule movement. As a southern unionist he was prepared to accept the election manifesto outlined by Lloyd George and Bonar Law in 1918, which was not proscriptive in its attitude to a solution to the Irish problem. He argued, optimistically, that this approach would prevent home rule because Ulster would not be coerced into it, and nationalists would not accept partition. His political career came to an end in 1919 when he was appointed a judge of the high court in Ireland. Maurice Healy (qv) (1887–1943) described his judicial career as ‘undistinguished’ while acknowledging that he was ‘sincere and patriotic’ (Healy, 281).
A man who involved himself in many committees and societies, he was a member of the senate and council of Dublin University; chancellor of the united dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe as well as the diocese of Armagh; and a member of the RIA. He retired from the bench when the Irish Free State judiciary act came into force in 1924. He had been in poor health for some time and on 25 March 1925 was taken seriously ill at La Croix, France, while on a motoring holiday. He died there on 11 May 1925.
He married (1881) Emma Margaret Irwin of Co. Donegal; they had one son and one daughter and resided at Cloghereen, Howth, Co. Dublin. Their son, Arthur Purefoy Irwin Samuels, died in Flanders in September 1916 as a captain in the Royal Irish Rifles; he had previously been engaged on compiling The early life, correspondence and writings of the Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke, M.P., a task that was completed by his father.