Monday, July 4, 2011

Ivo Edgar Bertram 1871 - 1940

Ivo Edgar Bertram was born on 29 July 1871.  He was the fourth child and second son of James and Christina Bertram and was the elder brother of Alister's great grandfather, Herbert Bertram.  

Following James' death in 1883, times must have been initially difficult.  Presumably Ivo had to leave school.  On 13 July 1887, the Wanganui Chronicle recorded the following, indicating that Ivo spent some time as a woodworking apprentice.  He would have been about 16 years of age at the time:

The takings at the Exhibition yesterday were £35, £10 being taken for reserved seats, and £21 at the door on the evening. Amongst the exhibits' shown at the Exhibition by Mr John Anderson are a side board with glass back, an umbrella and hat hall stand, a duchess toilet table, and a pedestal duchess table, all- of which are beautifully inlaid with fancy woods, and elegantly finished. These exhibits are of especial interest as they are the work of Wanganui youths who are apprenticed to Mr Anderson. The first two article were made by Thomas Wright, the third by Albert Brandon, and the fourth by Ivo Bertram.  The workmanship is extremely creditable to the youths, and also to the establishment from which it was turned out. 

Over time, Ivo must have made a decision to enter the Church.  He received a scholarship from the Presbyterian Church, which was noted by the Wanganui Chronicle on 7 March 1893:

The many friends of Mr Ivo Bertram, of this town, will be pleased to learn that he has been successful in winning a Presbyterian Church scholarship, tenable for three years. Mr Bertram leaves at the end of this month for Dunedin to pursue his studies at the Otago University.

On 4 April 1893, the Wanganui Chronicle recorded:

On Good Friday evening the teachers to St. Paul's Sunday School met and presented Mr Ivo Bertram, with a handsome reference Bible, as a mark of the respect in which he was held by them. Mr Bertram has been connected with the school for many years, and has earned the respect and good will of all with whom he has been associated.

While at University, Ivo was president of the Students' Christian Union.  By 1897, Ivo must have completed his studies at Otago University, in which year he received first class results for his degree in Political Economy.  Later, prior to his ordination, he also spent some time in Poverty Bay.

On 8 February 1901 the Hawera & Normanby Star recorded Ivo's ordination as a Presbyterian Minister: 

The ordination and induction of the Rev. Ivo E. Bertram to the charge of the Presbyterian Church at Hawera took place on Thursday afternoon. Notwithstanding the inclement weather, there was a large gathering in the church, settlers from distant parts of the district being present. At the commencement of the ceremony, Rev. Philip, of Manaia (interim moderator), entered the church and announced that in the absence of Rev. Doull, Presbytery clerk, it devolved upon him to give notice to any that could show cause why the Rev. Ivo Bertram should not be appointed to the charge to come forward and state their objection. He dealt with the tests Mr Bertram had been subjected to by the Presbytery, and the examinations had all been passed with distinction. There being no dissentient to Mr Bertram's appointment, Rev. Philip then withdrew to the vestry, returning with the following members of the Wanganui Presbytery :— Rev. Roes (Turakina), C. Mc Donald (Waverley), Osborne (New Plymouth), Ryburn (Wanganui), and Messrs Newing and Sutherland, elders. The local elders also occupied a seat in front. After prayers, reading a portion of the Scripture, and singing, a sermon was delivered by Mr Philip, the text being taken from Acts 26. At the conclusion of the sermon, the preacher addressed the candidate, and the licentiate was questioned according to the form of the church, and duly ordained by the Rev Philip. The charge to the minister was read by the Rev Osborne, and the charge to the congregation by Rev C. MoDonald, each addressing a few words to the licentiate appropriate to the oooasion. The ordination prayer was then proceeded with, and, after singing and prayer, the Benediction was pronounced. Throughout, the proceedings were solemn and impressive.

Ivo worked in and around Hawera and Normanby in Taranaki for the early part of the 20th century.

In the 10 September 1906 edition of the Wanganui Herald, the marriage of Ivo to Evelyn Bruce was announced.  By this stage, Ivo had been working in Poverty Bay and had obviously met Miss Bruce while there.  Evelyn was some fourteen years younger than Ivo, having been born in 1885.  She was therefore just 21 and he was 35 at the time of their marriage:

The Poverty Bay Herald reports that on Friday afternoon, at Ormond, the Rev. Ivo Bertram, M.A., of Auckland, was married at the Presbyterian Church to Miss Evelyn S. Bruce, third daughter of the late Mr G. Bruce, of Yarrow-braes, Ormond. The Rev. Walker conducted the ceremony. Misses Rose, Jessie, Georgiana and Isabel Bruce, sisters of the bride, and Miss Bertram, sister of the bridegroom, were the bridesmaids. Mr and Mrs Bertram left by the Tarawera for Auckland, on the following morning.

Ivo and Evelyn had two sons, George Bruce Bertram on 11 November 1907 and James Munro Bertram born on 11 August 1910.  I believe the following at two professional photographs taken of the family prior to them travelling overseas - probably taken early in 1911:

Thanks to Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries 31-64303

In early 1911, Ivo and his family travelled to Glasgow, so he could complete his studies.  On 22 February 1911 the Hawera & Normanby Star reported:

The Rev. Ivo Bertram, of the Devonport Presbyterian Church. Auckland who is on the eve of his departure for Edinburgh, to pursue a further course of study, was the recipient of a handsome present from the congregation at a farewell social. The present took the form of a cheque for a substantial amount The Rev. Bertram was at one time stationed in Hawera.

After 18 months away, in 1912, Ivo and family returned to New Zealand from Glasgow.  The following article appeared in the Wanganui Chronicle , Issue 12856, 27 August 1912, Page 2:


The Rev. Ivo Bertram, accompanied by Mrs. Bertram, returned to Auckland by the Wellington express on Thursday, after an absence of 18 months. Mr. Bertram, who is well known in Wanganui, was seen by a representative of the "Auckland Star" at the Presbyterian Manse, Devonport, and, in course of conversation, touched upon labour conditions as they appeared to him while in Glasgow, completing his postgraduate course. "I can only claim to have been a looker-on," said Mr. Bertram, "but when I saw the conditions under which the people work, the places where they have to live, and considered the pay they received, I could not help wondering whether modern industrial progress was really worth all the sacrifice it entails upon the workers. Going there as I did from a country where the conditions are so different, and where, with comparatively few exceptions, we are all workers, I may say that my sympathies were with the labouring people, and I was not surprised at the attempts made to better their position. I cannot say that I got into close touch with the workers in Glasgow, and attending the University did not leave me much time to study labour problems, much as I am interested in them, but I heard and read a good deal about the strike in London. Then there were one or two strikes in Glasgow while I was there.  It seems to me that the conditions of the workers at Home are terribly hard, and I do not wonder at the present prevailing feeling of unrest. The reason is not far to seek, for the men's income is so small that it is hard to see how they can make ends meet. The wage of a dock worker is difficult to ascertain definitely, as he has so much broken time, but some of the men on regular wages in other employment get very low pay. For instance, I was informed that some porters on railways only receive 10s. per week, and they have to look for the rest of their remuneration in the way of tips. Other railway men get as low as 17s. to 18s. per week, and a signalman, whose position is a fairly responsible one 3 does not exceed in many instance 27s. 6d. per week. Can you wonder, therefore, that my sympathies are entirely with the workers in their effort to improve their conditions? I was also informed that at the docks some men who do very heavy work are paid 20s. per week, and in the shops a joiner receives about 375. 6d. The ironworkers at the dock get better pay ranging, I was informed, from £2 up to £2 10s. in some instances." "Was there any rioting when the strikes were on in Glasgow?" "Well, there was some fighting around the docks at times. That mostly arose from the shipmasters trying to land perishable goods when the dockers were on strike. This was resented by the men, and then there was trouble. The fact must not be lost sight of that strikes are a very serious kind of protest against bad labour conditions. The women and children have to suffer when the men are out and I know it will take them years to get over the strike which occurred while I was in Glasgow. When the coal strike was on considerable hardship resulted, for it is a far different climate to ours, and that makes a shortage of fuel a serious matter. The trouble with the coal miners, as far as I could ascertain, was that the good seams being worked out, the men could not make the same wages at the pay offered for working the poorer seams. The conditions under which the workers have to live in Glasgow are hard. Most of them can only afford two small rooms in a tenement at the wages they receive, and even then I cannot understand how they manage to keep homes going. They have no idea of homes as we understand them here.  There are practically no yards for the children to play in, and the outlook from the windows of the tenements is not inviting, but for all that the little ones seem happy enough playing in the gutters, although that is not an ideal condition by any means.

"The hours worked by many men are very, long.  They leave home at dark in the winter, and it is dark when they return at night. They get time off for breakfast and dinner, and now have the Saturday afternoon to themselves. In summer the hours of labour are 5 a.m. to 5-30 or 6 p.m., and, as I said before, I am not surprised at even the terrible strike being resorted to in order to try and improve such conditions. A serious point in these labour disputes, as far as I could learn, is the attitude of some of the employers towards what I consider to be the men's reasonable claims. It is so utterly hard, and, generally speaking, there seems to me to be very little spirit of accommodation manifested. I was, however, informed that individual employers are more reasonable in the attitude they take than the big companies, where the managers are themselves employees, and simply carry out orders.

"We had a pleasant trip back," added Mr. Bertram, "travelling across the Continent to Naples, and I am glad to be at home again amongst my people."

Even after he left the South Taranaki area, Ivo still obviously retained links with the area.  The Wanganui Chronicle recorded on 30 January 1914:

The Rev. Ivo Bertram, M.A., Presbyterian Minister at Devonport, and Mrs Bertram, have been on a short holiday visit to Hawera and Waitotara.  They return to Auckland by the Main Trunk to-day.  

By 1923, Ivo had taken up a post at a Church in Sydney, having spent time already in a parish outside of Melbourne.  The Hawera & Normanby Star reports on 9 January 1923:

The Rev. Ivo Bertram, M.A., a graduate of Otago University, who was for some years minister of the Presbyterian Church in Hawera, who was later called to a church near Melbourne, and who, at present is minister of a Sydney church, intends to spend his annual holiday this year in the Dominion, and will during the month of January occupy the pulpit of the new church in Victoria Road, Auckland, which he did so much to bring into existence before he left for Australia.

Ivo carried on his work for many years, embracing new technology and even appearing on 2YA preaching from the pulpit.  He died in 1940 and Evelyn died almost a quarter of a century later on 24 July 1964.  She was cremated and interred at the Kelvin Grove Cemetery in Palmerston North.  On 5 August 1940, the Evening Post published the following obituary for Ivo:

The Rev. Ivo E. Bertram, M.A., a retired Presbyterian minister who gave notable service to his Church in both the North and South Islands, as well as for years in Melbourne and Sydney, died at Auckland on Saturday, aged 69.
Mr. Bertram was born at Wangaehu, near Wanganui, and was educated at Wanganui and later at Otago University. He laboured for many years in Devonport and from 1915 to 1923 in Australia, first in Melbourne and then in Sydney.
Returning to New Zealand in 1924, he became minister of St. Paul's Church, Oamaru, and it was while there that he suffered a serious road accident that undermined his health and led to his resignation in 1928.
His ministry was resumed in Auckland, but illness rendered it imperative for him to retire from active work in 1936.
Mr. Bertram is survived by his wife and two sons, Mr. J. M. Bertram,. Auckland Rhodes Scholar for 1932, who is now in Manila, and Mr. G. B. Bertram, of Auckland.

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