WM minister, born in Crosby Garrett, Westmorland, on 20 October 1861, the son of the village blacksmith, William Birkbeck and Ann (née Rudd). He trained for the ministry at Didsbury College. In 1894 at Looe, Cornwall, he married Ella Blanche Lightbourne of Nassau, Bahamas. Three of their four sons were pilots in World War I. The majority of his ministry was spent in rural circuits. His health broke down at Great Bentley in early 1930 and he died at Spaldwick from a heart attack following influenza on 9 May.
He was described as 'a man of strong yet tender personality', who 'wore himself out' in the service of others. Among his antecedents was Dr. George Birkbeck, co-founder with Lord Brougham of the Mechanics' Institute and also co-founder of University [Birkbeck] College, London, in 1827. One branch of the family became Birkbecks, the merchant bankers.