Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Birch, Samuel
BIRCH, Samuel, LL.D., F.S.A., eldest son of the late Rev. Samuel Birch, D.D., rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, and vicar of Little Marlow, Bucks, born in London, Nov. 3, 1813, was educated at private schools at Greenwich and Blackheath, and afterwards at Merchant Taylors' School, which he left in 1831. He was employed under the Commissioners of Public Records in 1834, and in 1836 was appointed assistant in the department of Antiquities of the British Museum, from which he rose to be assistant-keeper in 1844, on the retirement of Mr. Barnewell, and on the new organization of the department in 1861, he was appointed keeper of the Oriental, Mediæval, and British Antiquities and Ethnographical Collections. In 1846 Mr. Birch visited Italy by order of the trustees to examine the Anastasi collection of Egyptian antiquities at that time at Leghorn, and to see the collections of Rome and other cities. In 1856 he was again sent to Rome by Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to examine and value, in conjunction with Mr. Newton, the Campana collection, which had been offered to the British Government for purchase. In 1863 the description which he drew up of a papyrus belonging to the Prince of Wales was printed for private circulation by His Royal Highness. In 1839 he was elected corresponding member of the Archæological Institute of Rome; in 1851, of the Academy of Berlin; in 1852, of Herculaneum; and in 1861, of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres of the French Institute. The honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrews in 1862. He is an honorary member of the Royal Society of Literature, of the Society of Antiquaries, of the Oriental Society of France, and of the Ethnological Society of America, and is one of the direction of the Archæological Institute of Rome. At an early period of his career he paid particular attention to the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and his researches attracted the notice and secured him the lasting friendship of the late Baron Bunsen, with whose labours he was associated in his work on Egypt, Mr. Birch having contributed the philological portions relating to the hieroglyphics. One of the last requests of Boron Bunsen was that he should undertake the revision of future editions of this work. Accordingly, in 1867, after the Baron's death, he published the fifth and concluding volume, four-fifths of which is the composition of Dr. Birch himself. His labours extend over most branches of antiquities, he having, besides his researches in hieroglyphics, published memoirs and dissertations on Greek, Roman, and British antiquities, numismatics, and ethnography, and assisted in the editing of cuneiform inscriptions. In addition to these he has published in the Asiatic Journal translations from the Chinese, several papers in the "Transactions of' the Royal Society of Literature," the Archæologia, the Revue Archéologique, the Archaologische Zeitung, the Zeitschrift für ægyptische Sprache und Alterthumskunde, and the works of various societies. He also contributed many articles to the "English Encyclopædia." The late King of Prussia presented him with a copy of the great work of Lepsius, the "Denkmäler," for his Egyptian researches. Dr. Birch's other publications are:—the "Gallery of Antiquities," 1842; the text of Owen Jones's "Views on the Nile," 1843; "Catalogue of Greek Vases" (with Mr. Newton), 1851; "Introduction to the Study of the Hieroglyphics," 1857; a "History of Ancient Pottery," 1858; "Description of the Papyrus of Nash-khem," 1863; the "Rhind Papyri," 1866; and "Egypt from the Earliest Times," 1875. He edited "The Records of the Past," from 1873–80; Wilkinson's "Manners and Customs," 1878; and Eber's "Egypt," 1879. Dr. Birch presided over the Congress of Orientalists, held in London in Sept., 1874. The German Emperor conferred on him the Order of the Crown, and the University of Cambridge its honorary LL.D. degree, in 1875, and he was made honorary Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, in the same year, and D.C.L. of the same university in 1876, in recognition of his exertions on that occasion. He was appointed Rede Lecturer at Cambridge for the year 1876.