James Wheeler Woodford Birch (1826-1875) entered the Ceylon Civil Service at the age of 20, and served in a number of capacities until in May 1870 he was appointed Colonial Secretary for the Straits Settlements. In November 1874 he became the first British Resident of Perak, Malaya. On the 2 November 1875, during an outbreak of violence that followed the introduction of political reforms in the Malayan States, he was assassinated.
Ernest Woodford Birch (1857-1929) was the eldest son of James Wheeler Woodford Birch. In 1876 he entered the Colonial Office as a clerk, and in 1878 became a cadet in the Civil Service of the Straits Settlements. He was then sent to Singapore where he was placed in the Secretariat under Sir Cecil Clementi Smith. During the next fourteen years Birch acted in various capacities in Singapore and Malacca. In 1885 he was sent on a special mission to the Cocos Keeling Islands. In 1892, Birch became Secretary to the Governor of Perak (1892-1897) and he was subsequently appointed British Resident of Selangor, British Resident of the Negri Sembilan, and Governor of Labuan and North Borneo. His final post was as the 7th British Resident of Perak, a post he held from 1904 until his retirement in 1910. After his retirement, he served for many years on the Council of the Overseas League, becoming Chairman in 1921. He was made Mayor of Bexhill in 1927 and was made KCMG in 1911.