Photographers Index

Birch, James Wheeler Woodford, 1826-1875, resident in Perak

Gender: Male
Active Dates: circa 1826 - circa 1875
Active Area: Asia (continent)
Sri Lanka (nation)
Malaysia (nation)
West Malaysia (division (national))
Perak (state)
North Central Province (province)
Polonnaruwa (inhabited place)
Likenesses: None found.
Photographs: None known to be held within the collection
Publications: Two prints by Birch are pasted into some copies of 'Memoranda, etc., on Malayan Peninsula and Perak', Calcutta, 1875.
Related Entries: W L H Skeen and Co
James Wheeler Woodford Birch was born on 3rd April 1826, son of Revd. James Wheeler Birch, Vicar of All Saints, Hertford. Birch served in the Royal Navy for a period and was stationed in H.M.S. Alfred off the coast of South America. He held a variety of positions:

Dec. 1846 - Commissioner of Roads Department, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
Nov. 1852 - Writer for the Ceylon Civil Service, attached to the Government Agent's Office, Jaffna.
Apr. 1853 - Joint Commissioner of Requests and Police Magistrate in Jaffna
Oct. 1853 - Galle.
Jan. 1854 - Mallakam.
Jan. 1854 - Chavakachcheri (acting).
Aug. 1854 - Acting Assistant Government Agent in Trincomalee - appointment confirmed in December 1854.
Mar. 1856 - District Judge, etc, in Batticaloa.
Jan. 1859 to May 1862 - Acting Assistant Government Agent, Batticaloa (after which he resumed his duties as a Judge).
Sep. 1864 - Acting Assistant Government Agent, Ratnapura.
Aug. 1865 - Kurunegala
July 1866 - Acting Assistant Government Agent, Hambantota.
Oct. 1867 - Acting Government Agent and Collector of Customs, Eastern Province - appointment confirmed June 1868.
May 1870 to 1874 - Colonial Secretary, Straits Settlement.
Nov. 1874 to 1875 - first British Resident of Perak, murdered by Malays.

Birch took photographs of the ruins of Polonnaruwa which were marketed after his death by W.L.H. Skeen and Co. He photographed extensively during tours of Perak 1874-75, pasting prints into copies of his journals. The journals contain several references to photography.
Sources: Boase, Frederic (1892), 'Modern English biography: containing many thousand concise memoirs of persons who have died since... 1850'. Volume 1: A-H. Truro: Netherton and Worth.
Ceylon Civil Lists 1870.
Colonial Office List 1874.
Straits Settlement Blue Books.

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