Series MS-0061 - Birch family papers

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Birch family papers

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  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • multiple media

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Reference code

MS-0061

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Date(s)

  • [ca. 1810]-1946 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

20 cm of textual records, 1 microfilm reel : negative ; 16 mm, 34 photographs

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Custodial history

Originals presented for copying by Charles R. Maier, 1974 and 1976.

Scope and content

Arthur Nonus Birch (1836-1914), the son of H.W.R. Birch, was appointed 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. Birch returned to Canada in 1907 and 1911, including a visit to British Columbia with his daughter in 1907. Birch married Josephine Watt-Russell in 1873, and one of his two sons assumed his mother's name in order to inherit the family's estate. Birch's only daughter, Una, married L.H.R. Pope Hennessy, son of Sir John Pope Hennessy, a notable colonial governor. Their son, Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy, has recently been appointed Director of the British Museum.
Supplementary biographical and custodial information provided by Provincial Archivist John A. Bovey in 1992, available in Appendix A of finding aid.
The collection consists of Henry William Birch's commonplace notebook, two diaries kept by Arthur Nonus Birch pertaining to a trip to North America and his service as colonial secretary of British Columbia, correspondence with various members of the Birch family, reminiscences of life in the colonial service by Arthur Nonus Birch, and photographs. Also includes Birch family papers (additional papers on microfilm only). Copies of 34 photographs have been deposited with Visual Records, item numbers HP082429 to HP082462.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The collection was presented to the Provincial Archives for copying by Charles R. Maier through the courtesy of Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy on 30 October 1974. The Birch family papers : additional papers were presented for copying through Charles Maier by Simon Birch on 26 Jan 1976.

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Script of material

Location of originals

The original records are held by Simon Birch, grandson of Arthur Nonus Birch.

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General note

Accession number(s): 74-080; 76-015

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