Greer, Samuel McCurdy (1809–80), barrister, judge, and politician, was born 20 July 1809 in Springvale, Co. Londonderry, the eldest son of Rev. Thomas Greer, presbyterian minister of Dunboe, Co. Londonderry, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Capt. Adam Caldwell, RN. He was educated at the Belfast Academy and graduated MA from Glasgow University in 1828. Admitted to the Inner Temple in London (1828), he was called to the Irish bar in 1833.
During the 1840s he was an advocate of land reform, particularly the protection of the Ulster custom of tenant right (which gave tenants a saleable interest in their holdings). He also advocated the introduction of the secret ballot to protect tenants from punitive landlords. In 1850 he published Freedom of agriculture: or the necessity of adequate compensation for permanent improvements. He was one of the provisional secretaries who organised the founding conference of the Irish Tenant League in August 1850. However, his unease with Irish nationalism and unwillingness to support the league's full programme of fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure, led to his almost immediate withdrawal. He decided to enter parliament to promote land reform, and unsuccessfully contested Co. Londonderry as a liberal candidate in 1852, but was elected for the county in March 1857 in a by-election; he retained his seat in the general election later in that year. He was defeated in 1859, however, and later unsuccessfully contested Derry city in 1860 and 1865. During the course of his career, he published papers on legal and social topics, including ‘On the Bank Charter Act of 1844’, in the Journal of the Dublin Statistical Society (1856), and ‘Legal impediments to the cultivation of trees in Ireland’, ‘Abstract of a paper on railway reform’ and ‘Government purchase of railways in Ireland: how can it be achieved?’ in the Statistical and Social Inquiry Journal of Ireland in 1863, 1865 and 1869, respectively.
By 1870 he had effectively retired from political life and later served as recorder of Derry (1870–78) and county court judge for Cavan and Leitrim (1880). Much of his later career as a judge was spent dealing with the wave of agrarian crime that swept the country during the height of the land war. He died 23 November 1880 at his Dublin residence, 3 Gardiner's Place, and was buried in Old Downhill cemetery, near Springvale. A memorial tower was later erected to his memory at Castlerock presbyterian church.
In 1845 he married Marion Fletcher McCrone (d.1858), daughter of James McCrone, crown agent at Douglas, Isle of Man; they had four daughters and one son, Thomas MacGregor Greer (1853–1928), a solicitor and Northern Ireland senator (1921–28). In June 1867 he married Sarah Frances Nugent (d.1900); they had one son, Sir Francis Nugent Greer (1869–1925), the last parliamentary draftsman of the Irish office (1908–23) who was responsible for drafting the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 and the constitution of Northern Ireland.