Samuel Wilds Gillespie Shipp was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Albert M. Shipp, D.D., and Mary Jane Gillespie of Cheraw. His father was the civil war president of Wofford College. He was educated at Wofford and at Vanderbilt University. he began law practice at Bennettsville, was a Magistrate there and then moved to Florence and entered into partnership with C.A. Woods. He later practiced with C. Gordon Baker.
He served as Florence City Attorney and was elected to the South Carolina State Legislature in 1906. He served in the House Judiciary Committee and was elected Judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in 1908, serving in that position until his death in 1937.
He married Elizabeth Gasque and they had a son and daughter. At the Bar, he was known as a lawyer’s lawyer for his unusual knowledge of the law and ready helpfulness. On the Bench, he was known for his noble appreciation of fundamental justice and for his gracious sympathy.
He felt affection for youth and compassion for fledgling lawyers. Truly happy on Circuit, he found a fishing and hunting crony in every county seat. He loved South Carolina and her people.