Greer, Samuel MacCurdy (DNB00)

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GREER, SAMUEL MacCURDY(1810–1880), Irish politician, eldest son of the Rev. Thomas Greer, presbyterian minister of Dunboe, and Elizabeth Caldwell, daughter of Captain Adam Caldwell, R.N., was born at Springvale, co. Derry, in 1810, educated at the Belfast Academy and Glasgow University, and was called to the Irish bar in 1833 His life was devoted to constitutional agitation for such reforms in Irish land tenure as were necessary to make the union tolerable as a permanent arrangement. It was about 1848 that Greer first began to take an active part in political life, and although never a very prominent figure in public, his influence and popularity in his native county were very great. He was one of the originators of the tenant league, formed in 1850 by himself, Sir John Gray, proprietor of the 'Freeman's Journal,' Dr. M'Knight, editor of the 'Londonderry Standard,' Frederick Lucas, and John Francis Maguire. They demanded for the Irish tenant what have since been known as the three F's —fixity of tenure, fair rents, and free sale. Greer was one of the few Ulstermen of any weight or position—William Sharman Crawford [q. v.] was another—who adopted these principles. He contested the representation of co. Derry four times, and that of the city of Londonderry twice, being successful only once, in 1857. Although almost continuously defeated he was in reality more than any other man the creator of the liberal party in Ulster. He practically retired in 1870, before the movement in favour of home rule had attained its later importance. Most of the reforms for which he struggled—tenant right, vote by ballot, &c.—had already been conceded. He probably would not have approved the policy afterwards developed by Mr. Parnell's party, and dissented from their cardinal principle of standing entirely aloof from both English parties. There was, therefore, nothing to prevent him from accepting the recordership of Londonderry in 1870. He held this office until 1878, when he was appointed county court judge of Cavan and Leitrim. He died in 1880.

[Private information from his nephew, Dr. T. Greer, of Cambridge.]

T. G.