From the family of West Indian planters, Samuel William Reynolds earliest work was dated from 1794. Little is known of his education before he became apprentice to mezzotint engraver Charles Howard Hodges (1764-1837) which lasted until 1993 when Hodges departed for the Netherlands. He is thought to have also studied under the printmaker John Raphael Smith (1752 - 1812).
Reynolds was skilled in the techniques of mezzotint, etching, aquatint and stipple. As an artist he was able to produce impressions of high artistic excellence and often combined various printmaking processes to enhance the quality of his work.
He was made drawing master to the daughters of George III and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1797 and 1827 excluding the years between 1811 and 1818. During this time the Napoleonic wars greatly hindered the London print trade and Reynolds was unable to support his wife Jane Cowen and their five children. The family moved to to Bedfordshire where Reynolds worked as a landscape gardener and deputize for politian Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815) in the running of his estate.
Reynolds returned to London in 1818. Shortly after he engraved two plates for Joseph Mallord William Turner's (1775-1851) 'Liber Studiorum' He had also continued engraving during his time in Bedfordshire by appointing apprentices such as Samuel Cousins (1801–1887) and David Lucas (1802–1881) to undertake the preliminary plate work. Reynolds produced a large number of plates during his life time after many notable artists including 357 small mezzotints after Sir Joshua Reynolds's (1723–1792) portraits.
After extending his work to Paris in 1824 he leased a studio at 43 rue de Batailles, Chaillot and recruited assistants to aid with the production of work. His prints 'à la manière noire' dominated the Paris market until his death in 1835.