Arthur Birch (colonial administrator)

Sir Arthur Nonus Birch KCMG (September 1837 – 31 October 1914) was Lieutenant Governor of Ceylon, Colonial Secretary for Ceylon and acting Lieutenant Governor of Penang and Province Wellesley (1871-1872).

The son of Rev. Henry William Rous Birch, rector of Reydon and Bedfield, Suffolk,[1][2] and was baptised at Yoxford, Suffolk on 23 Oct 1836.[3] He joined the colonial service as clerk in the Office of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in February 1855, served as Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's assistant private secretary in 1858, and Chichester Fortescue's private secretary from September 1859 to February 1864 when he accepted the post of colonial secretary of British Columbia. He served in that capacity and for a time as administrator of the government until 1866 when he returned to England to resume his duties in the Colonial Office. He remained with the Colonial Office, serving as acting Lieutenant Governor of Penang and Province Wellesley, colonial secretary of Ceylon and Lieutenant Governor of Ceylon, until his retirement from the service in June 1878.

After his resignation from the Colonial Office Birch joined the Bank of England where he remained until retirement in 1913.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

On 29 May 1873 Birch married Josephine (or "Zephine", d. 1893) at Oundle, Northamptonshire.[15] She was the daughter of Jesse Watts-Russell, MP, of Biggin Hall, Northamptonshire. Their elder son and heir, Wyndham, was born in 1874, and married the only daughter of John Manners Yorke, 7th Earl of Hardwicke; younger son Arthur adopted his mother's surname and became a Captain in the Coldstream Guards. Birch's daughter was the writer Dame Una Pope-Hennessy.[16][17]



Mount Birch, in the central Camelsfoot Range near Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada, is named for him.[18]


  1. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edition, ed. L. G. Pine, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952, p. 181, "Birch of Beaumont Hall"
  2. ^ The Annual Register, ed. Edmund Burke, Rivingtons, 1885, p. 142
  3. ^ England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line], FHL Film Number: 918544, Reference ID:- 2:26MMSFV
  4. ^ Shaw, William Arthur The Knights of England: a complete record from the earliest time to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of knights bachelors. Incorporating a complete list of knights bachelors dubbed in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1971; ISBN 0-8063-0443-X, ISBN 978-0-8063-0443-4; p. 369.
  5. ^ Ferguson, John Ceylon in 1893: describing the progress of the island since 1803, its present agricultural and commercial enterprises, and its unequalled attractions to visitors; with useful statistical information, specially prepared map, and upwards of one hundred illustrations.Colombo: John Haddon & Co., Colombo: A. M. & J. Ferguson, Observer Press, 1893; pp. 206, 232, 413.
  6. ^ Wilkinson, Richard James Events Prior to British Ascendancy ...: notes on Perak history .... Printed by J. Russell at the F.M.S. gov't press, 1908; Item notes: v.1-5 (1908-1911); p. 75.
  7. ^ Burns, Peter L.; Wilkinson, Richard James Papers on Malay Subjects; Compiled by Peter L. Burns; Contributors: Peter L. Burns, Richard James Wilkinson. Oxford University Press, 1971; p. 134.
  8. ^ Lear, Edward Later Letters of Edward Lear to Chichester Fortescue: To Chichester Fortescue (Lord Carlingford), Lady Waldegrave, and Others/ Ayer Publishing, 1977; ISBN 0-8369-6617-1, ISBN 978-0-8369-6617-6; p. 154.
  9. ^ "Appointments, Preferments and Promotions. Civil, Naval and Military. Whitehall, Feb 3." in: The Gentleman's Magazine; 1864; Item notes: v.216 1864 Jan-Jun; p. 375.
  10. ^ Parkinson, C. N. British Intervention in Malaya, 1867-1877. University of Malaya Press, 1960; p. 47.
  11. ^ Dunae, Patrick Alexander Gentlemen Emigrants: From the British Public Schools to the Canadian Frontier Douglas & McIntyre, 1981; p. 40.
  12. ^ MacIntyre, W. D. The Imperial Frontier in the Tropics, 1865-75: a study of British colonial policy in West Africa, Malaya and the South Pacific in the age of Gladstone and Disraeli. St. Martin's Press, 1967.
  13. ^ Cowan, Charles Donald Nineteenth-century Malaya: the origins of British political control. Oxford University Press, 1961; p. 85, 101.
  14. ^ Harfield, A. G. Christian Cemeteries of Penang & Perak. Published for the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia, 1987; ISBN 0-907799-18-3, ISBN 978-0-907799-18-4; p. 79.
  15. ^ Northamptonshire Record Office; Northampton, England; Register Type: Parish Registers; Reference Numbers: 249P/371
  16. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 18th edition, vol. 2, ed. Peter Townend, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1969, pp. 543-544, "Watts-Russell formerly of Ilam Hall"
  17. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edition, ed. L. G. Pine, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952, p. 181, "Birch of Beaumont Hall"
  18. ^ Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia entry "Mount Birch" Archived April 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  • Correspondence Between the Governor of British Columbia and the Treasurer of Vancouver Island on the Subject of the Abolition of the Office of Treasurer, 1866-1867; by Birch, Arthur N. (Arthur Nonus), 1837-1914, Frederick Seymour, Seymour, Frederick, 1820-1869, Alexander Watson, Arthur Nonus Birch (CIMH/ICMH microfiche series; no. 14349.) ISBN 0-665-14349-4, ISBN 978-0-665-14349-6 (held by the British Library according to copac)