Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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SAMPSON, William, author, born in Londonderry, Ireland, 17 January, 1764; died in New York city, 27 December, 1836. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister, and held a commission in the Irish volunteers, but afterward entered Dublin university, and became a barrister. He acted frequently as counsel for members of the Society of United Irishmen, thereby exciting the suspicions of the government, and after the failure of the rebellion of 1798 fled, but was brought back as a prisoner to Dublin. He was released on condition that he should go to Portugal. While there he was again imprisoned at the instance of the English government, which was anxious to obtain papers that had been in his possession. He was finally set free, and came to this country. He established himself as a lawyer in New York city, obtained a large practice, and through his writings, which contain severe invec-tires against the common law, was influential in bringing about amendments and consolidations of the laws of the state. He published "Sampson against the Philistines, or the Reformation of LawSuits " (Philadelphia, 1805); "Memoirs of William Sampson " (New York, 1807 ; London, 1832); "Catholic Question in America" (1813) ; "Discourse before the New York Historical Society on the Common Law" (1824);" Discourse and Cot-respondence with Learned Jesuits upon the History of the Law" (Washington, 1826); and the "History of Ireland," in part a reprint of Dr. W. Cooke Tavlor's "Civil Wars of Ireland" (New York, 1833) ; also reports of various trials.
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