Born at Whitehall Scorrier in 1805, Waters found employment in the late 1820s at the Minas Gerais mine of Gongo Soco as a subordinate agent with the Imperial Brazilian Mining Company. Returning to Cornwall in 1831 he managed mines near Hayle until 1839 when he travelled to Chile under contract to the British-backed Copiapů Mining Company as a Mine Agent with Chief Agent Captain John Trebilcock who had been in charge at Gongo Soco. Waters became the Principal Agent of this company in 1847 when Trebilcock returned home and after returning to Chile from a short break in Cornwall, he assumed the post of Managing Director in 1849, the only Agent ever to have done so.
Having held shares in numerous mines, he decided to commence business on his own in mining and relinquished his position with the Company in 1852. With a few other gentlemen Waters purchased the sett of a silver mine, the prosecution of which exhausted all his savings without obtaining any return. Fortunately he had earned the trust of those around him who placed money at his disposal allowing the enterprise to continue; a rich vein of silver was cut and dividends paid to investors.
Waters then began to diversify his capital into the lucrative import-export business, entering into a contract with two other Cornishmen, Thomas Waitt and Samuel Lean, to form the company Waitt, Lean and Co. This firm imported articles of British commerce and exported metal to England, and soon became the established leader in the field at Copiapů.
When Lean and Waitt dissolved the partnership in 1858 upon their return to Cornwall, Waters took over, becoming the most prominent merchant in Copiapů. For many years he was the largest exporter of copper ore from Chile to Britain, his mines alone enabling him to ship 800 tons of copper ore monthly, averaging 25 per cent produce. Most of the revenue he derived came from the famous Descubridora and San Pedro Mines near Tres Puntas in which he employed many Cornishmen. Widely respected by Cornish and Chileans alike, the Chilean government appointed him to be the principal arbitrator in connection with their entire mineral property, at that time the only foreigner ever to have been entrusted with this office.
Estimated to have been two or three times a millionaire, Don Sampson as he was known, returned to Cornwall with his fortune in 1860 leaving his only son John in charge of his business interests there. He purchased a residence near his childhood home at Whitehall and in 1863 bought Gyllyngdune Mansion and estate at Falmouth for the princely sum of £10,000. He became a key investor in many Cornish enterprises. It was due to the efforts of Waters that Wheal Rose was set to work as he held 1,400 out of 2,000 shares in this mine. He was also one of the largest shareholders in Dolcoath and many other local mines, as well as being the principal proprietor in the Redruth Tin Smelting Company and the Cornwall Arsenic Works at Bissoe and Hayle and had an interest in a gunpowder works at Porthtowan. He also invested around £1,000 in the Falmouth Docks Company and was a shareholder in the Falmouth Hotel.
Waters was twice married; his first wife, Peggy Trebilcock, whom he wed at Gwennap in 1826 and by whom he had a son and three daughters, died while he was in Chile. In 1861 he married Miss Tremayne. He was a devoted Wesleyan, giving large sums of money for chapel building and renovation and was appointed by the Lord Chancellor as a magistrate for Falmouth, an office his untimely death prevented him from carrying out. He died at Gyllyngdune on 9 November 1866 aged 61 and was buried in a granite vault at Falmouth Cemetery. His funeral, one of the largest ever witnessed in west Cornwall, was attended by many of the notable gentlemen, merchants and captains of the Cornish mining industry.