From: "Montreal History and Gazeteer to the year 1892"
By Rev. J. Douglas Borthwick, John Lovell & Son, Montreal 1892

The subject of this sketch is one of the oldest merchants in Montreal.  He was born at Wombwell, Yorkshire, England, near the beginning of this century, in 1807. His father was Richard Birks, civil engineer, and his two brothers, Edward Birks and Thomas Birks, followed their father's profession.  Richard was educated at Brampton Grammar School.  He then studied Pharmacy under the well-known Dr. Hudson in London, England.  After some years he went to the West Indies, to Jamaica, and remained their until 1832, when, on the liberation of the slaves, and abolition of slavery throughout the British Colonies, He returned to England.  He came to Canada in 1844, and settled in Montreal.  He is now sixty-five years in the drug business, and, though over eighty years of age, is still active and strong, walking a mile or more every moniing from his home to the store on McGill street, and such are his perfect faculties that he can yet, without the aid of glasses, write very small texts on the prescriptions which are prepared in his establishment.

The ancestors of the subject of this sketch have lived in Wombwell for over eight hundred years, in the one homestead for over four hundred years, and they have been the agents of  Sir George Wombwell of Wombwell Hall for the past three hundred years, and at the close of this century the old homestead is still in the family.

Mr. Birks married Mary Morris in 1848, and has two sons and two daughters. His oldest son, 
Robert Birks, has been in the employ of the Allan Line of Steamers for over eight years.  His second son, James Birks, is with his father in the drug business.  His oldest daughter is married to George Sutherland, dry goods merchant of this City, and the youngest to W.N. Slayton of the United States.

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