Born March 30th in 1829 in East Stonham rectory, Suffolk, Samuel George Phear was a clergyman of the Church of England. He graduated at Cambridge in 1852 as 4th Wrangler and was made a Fellow of Emmanuel in 1853. In 1859 he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.
Having achieved the positions of Bursar and Senior Tutor at Emmanuel, he was made Master in 1871. The following year he took the degree of Doctor in Divinity and was elected Vice-Chancellor of the University, both in 1874 and 1875. Though clearly religious, he also possessed an interest in science and was a member of the Syndicate that later led to the formation of the Cavendish Laboratory.
In June of 1876, whilst still Vice-Chancellor, Samuel George Phear made a payment on behalf of the Chancellor of £942 and 6 shillings to James Clerk Maxwell "on account of apparatus and cases for your museum" (the Cavendish Laboratory).