Birch, Thomas 1 2 3 4a

Birth Name Birch, Thomas 5a
Gender male
Age at Death 79 years, 3 months, 14 days


Thomas Birch was born near the Vale of Avoca, Ireland, the youngest son of Denis Birch and his wife Susannah Waters. The family left Ireland in 1817, and eventually settled on the Island.

In 1847, Thomas married Agnes Ellis - APR. 30, 1847, MARRIED AT ST. JAMES CHURCH, PORT HILL BY THE REV. W. H. COOPER, B.A., THOMAS BIRCH OF PORT HILL TO AGNES, ELDEST DAUGHTER OF JAMES ELLIS OF NEW BEDFORD, LOT 12 (the Islander). On the church record, Thomas signed his name, but both Agnes and James Ellis signed with their mark. The witnesses were James Ellis, Susan Yeo, and ? Craswell. Agnes was the grand-daughter of William Ellis, ship-builder. Thomas and Agnes may have encountered each other at church, or perhaps Thomas had worked for her father.

Thomas Birch gave his occupation as carpenter on the church records for the birth of several of his children, and according to the local history Climbing the Hill, he had a reputation as a very fine carpenter. A picture showing his restoration work for the Anglican church in Port Hill is attached. He also built his own home, which is still standing.

According to the Birch family history, by Jeanette Birch, "Thomas was also expert at the grim task of mking coffins - a service that he performed free of charge. In 1857, between April 3 and April 9, he was called upon to make five coffins for this brother William's children." Two years later Thomas and Agnes also lost a daughter, Susannah.

In the 1861 census, he was both a joiner and farmer. There were 9 people in Thomas and Agnes' household: 1 boy and 2 girls under 5; 3 boys and 1 girl between 5 and 15; and one married couple. One child had been born in the last year, probably David.
Under 5: David, Letitia and Eliza
5-15: Louis, James, Edmund and Sarah Jane

1881 Household Members:
Thomas Birch 65
Agnes Birch 55
David R. Birch 19
John A. Birch 18
Henry B.S. Birch 16
Elisa C. Birch 22
Damaris Louisa Birch 12 ()

In the 1891 census, Thomas and Agnes were living with their children John A. (27), David R. (29), Eliza (34), and Damarais (21).

Thomas died January 29 1894. He was survived by nine of his 13 children, six sons and three daughters.

"Called away from the troubles and toils of this life, to the rest beyond on Monday the 29th of January Thomas Birch of Port Hill, in his 79th year of his age. His illness was long and severe, for eleven weeks his body was racked with pain, yet not a murmur escaped his lips, but at the last came that sweet and happy peace, which is the birthright of the trusting ones. He was born on the 15th of October 1815, in the Country of Wicklow, Ireland, quite near the beautiful spot, the Vale of Avoca, of which the poet Moore sings so sweetly in his 'Meeting of the Waters.' a conversationalist and native wit he had few equals.

He was kind and hospitable and few left his door without having shared his humble fare. He was an obliging neighbour and always ready to lend a helping hand to the needy."

In his will, Thomas left everything to his wife Agnes. On her death, his two unmarried daughters received two hundred dollars each, and his son Henry Birchfield Swabey and his family was to be left the farm .

Thomas Birch had at least three namesakes in the extended family - he must have been a very well respected man in the community.

For the Birch family, see Leaves from the Birches of Avoca and the local history of Port Hill, Climbing the Hill.
Marriage: PEI Marriage Registrations, St. James Church of England records, The Islander April 30 1847
Obituary: the Journal of February 14 1894, transcribed in Leaves from the Birches of Avoca.


From the Islander, Friday February 16, 1855

Subscriptions for the Crimean War


On Friday evening, February 2nd, a Public Meeting was held at Mr. David Ramsay's in favour of the above object, which is at the present time exciting so much interest both in England and the Colonies. A large number of persons were present on the occasion, and a very loyal and patriotic feeling was exhibited. At the request of the meeting, the Rev. H. B. Swabey occupied the Chair, and Captain Wm. Richards was appointed Secretary and Treasurer. The Chairman having briefly stated the object of the meeting, and having read the extracts from the Royal Commission, the following resolutions were unanimously passed:-

1st. Moved by Mr. David Ramsay, seconded by Captain Richards, That this meeting is desirous of expressing its sympathy in behalf of the widows and orphans of those brave men who have fallen in a foreign land, when asserting the sacred cause of liberty.

2nd. Moved by Mr. Neil Ramsay, seconded by Mr. T. Birch, That it is the bounden duty of the British Colonies to emulate, as far as possible, the bright example which has been set them by the Mother Country, in contributing towards the alleviation of the temporal wants of those who have been deprived of their chief earthly support.

3rd. Moved by the Rev. H. B. Swabey, seconded by Mr. Thomas Birch, That while the brilliant success which has attended the British arms demands our tribute of admiration, we are in a greater degree called upon to shew our gratitude to God, who is alone the author and the giver of all victories.

4th. Moved by the Rev. Mr. McLeod, seconded by Mr. Alexander McArthur, That the unlooked for and extraordinary alliance between the arms of France and England, in defending the peace of Europe from the despotic power of an unprincipled aggressor [Russia], encourages us to hope that the bonds of amity may be strengthened between these great and formerly hostile nations.

5th. Moved by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Mr. Webb, That the understood intention of the Legislature to follow the example of Canada and Nova Scotia, in appropriating a sum of money towards the objects of this meeting, meets with our cordial assent.

6th. Moved by Mr. Sullivan, seconded by Mr. Archibald Ramsay, That the female portion of our Settlements be respectfully solicited by the executive committee, to contribute some Island manufactured socks towards supplying the wants of our brave and hardy soldiers.

7th. Moved by Mr. Donald Ramsay, seconded by Mr. John Montgomery, That this meeting would express a hope that, should the war continue, men would be found within this Island and the Colonies generally, who would offer their valuable services to their Queen and country.

8th. Moved by Mr. John Ramsay, seconded by Mr. Henry Fallen, That this meeting entertaining a just sense of the horrors of war, would indulge a hope that the day is fast approaching when God will restore to the nations of the world the blessing of peace.

9th. It was moved and seconded, That the following gentlemen be appointed as an Executive Committee, to solicit subscriptions within Lots 11, 12, 13, and 14. In Lot 11- Messrs. Alex. McKay, Patrick Murphy, sen, Thomas Boyles, Archd Ramsay. In Lot 12 - Messrs. Wm. Ellis, George Ellis, Henry Swabey, John England. In Lot 13 - Messrs. David Ramsay, James Yeo, Wm. Richards, Archd Montgomery. In Lot 14 -Messrs. Neil Ramsay, P. Birch, John Cann, Lauchlan Gillis.

10th. It was moved and seconded, That Capt. Richards be requested to act as Secretary to the Executive Committee, with power to receive all subscriptions that may be collected at this meeting, and afterwards to transmit the same with as little delay as possible to the Queen's Paymaster General.

11th. It was moved and seconded, That the report of this meeting be inserted in all the Island papers.

The thanks of the meeting having been given to the Chairman, three cheers were given for the Queen, for our brave Allies the French and the Emperor of the French, also three cheers for Lord Raglan, and one more cheer for the success of the British arms at Sebastopol.

The following subscription list was then opened, amounting to £20 14s 3d. As the list will remain open to the end of the month, we hope that sum will be considerably increased. We must also add, that the names of two of the most wealthy men in our community appear elsewhere in the subscription lists for the Patriotic Fund - the Hon. James Warburton having given £5 in Charlottetown, and James Yeo, Esq. M. P. P., has also given £5 at St. Eleanor's.


Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth October 15, 1814 Knockanree, Wicklow, Ireland from Leaves from the Birches of Avoca by J. Birch page 267 5b
Death January 29, 1894 Port Hill, Lot 13, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada aged 78, from church records  


Relation to main person Name Birth date Death date Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father Birch, Denis1783August 1866
Mother Waters, Susanah1767April 28, 1855
    Brother     Birch, Edward about 1806 November 3, 1894
    Brother     Birch, William October 5, 1806 April 29, 1896
    Sister     Birch, Elizabeth Eliza April 13, 1809 August 22, 1883
    Brother     Birch, John May 6, 1810 1817
    Brother     Birch, Prushia Prussia April 8, 1813 before 1897
         Birch, Thomas October 15, 1814 January 29, 1894


Family of Birch, Thomas and Ellis, Agnes

Married Wife Ellis, Agnes ( * June 18, 1826 + February 1, 1909 )
Event Date Place Description Sources
Marriage April 20, 1847 Port Hill, Lot 13, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada PEI marriage Registrations 1844-52, page 378; also St. James Church of England records  
Name Birth Date Death Date
Birch, William Louis LewisFebruary 9, 1848May 6, 1908
Birch, James EdwardJuly 29, 1849December 6, 1941
Birch, Edmund HenryMarch 1, 1851April 30, 1944
Birch, Sarah JaneMarch 27, 18531953
Birch, Eliza CatherineOctober 3, 1856January 10, 1943
Birch, Susannahabout 1858December 10, 1859
Birch, Letitia CarolineMarch 5, 1859January 12, 1871
Birch, David RamsayJanuary 14, 1861July 11, 1933
Birch, John AlbertFebruary 14, 1863January 23, 1908
Birch, Henry Birchfield SwabeyMay 17, 1865August 4, 1955
Birch, DionysiusApril 11, 1867April 11, 1867
Birch, Robert EllisApril 11, 1867April 11, 1867
Birch, Damaris Louisa AnnieAugust 18, 1869January 30, 1954

Source References

  1. Jeanette Birch: Leaves from the Birches of Avoca
  2. Birch Hill W.I.: Climbing the Hill - A History of Birch Hill, Lots 13 and 14
  3. Descendants of William Ellis
  4. Division of Vital Statistics. Public Archives, Charlottetown.: Prince Edward Island Marriage Registers, 1832-1888
      • Page: 1844-1852, page 378
  5. 1881 Census of Canada
      • Source text:

        Birth date: abt 1816 Birth place: Ireland Residence date: 1891 Residence place: Prince, Prince Edward Island, Canada

      • Source text:

        Birth date: abt 1816 Birth place: Ireland Residence date: 1891 Residence place: Prince, Prince Edward Island, Canada