Doigs Digest 2014



Black1 gives the name as a diminutive of Albert or Bertram and cites as an example James Bertie of Charlestown in1735.  The earliest records of the Bertie surname occur in the Brechin-Dun-Montrose area during the seventeenth century.    By the middle of the next century the name had spread over Northeast Angus and southern Mearns.     At the end of the eighteenth it had spread southwards to the Carmyllie-Arbroath areas and by 1850 was present in Dundee and Forfar.

It is known that a John Bertie married Ann Scott on the 29th of October 1762 in the parish of Aberlemno.     Five children were born to the couple before the family moved to St Vigeans, Arbroath where girl twins were born and baptised on 3oth March 1772.    The older children, all baptised at Aberlemno on the following dates were Margaret, 4th September 1763, James, 12th December 1764, Ann 29th August 1766, John 14th February 1768, and David 6th November 1769.     The twin girls were called Isobel and Ann so it must be assumed that the earlier Ann had died before 1772.    As the Scottish custom was to name the first boy child after the paternal grandfather then it can be assumed that John, who would be born about 1740, had a father called James.    John's three sons were known to be weavers and it is likely that John was also a weaver. Linen weaving is one of Scotland's oldest industries.    At this period weavers were individuals known as household or customary weavers who relied on commissions from local families to weave up their yarn; this usually provided seasonal employment combined with harvesting.    By the time John Bertie married Ann Scott weaving was becoming the main non-agricultural occupation in Aberlemno and increasing prosperity probably led John Bertie to move his family to better housing in the Arbroath area about 1770.    During the early 1780s, the three sons would have learned the art of weaving and with four men at the looms would have been a prosperous family.     The St. Vigeans Weaver Society was formed in 1787 and all four men may have been members of this Society which had 87 members in 1893, admitting only those who had "been regularly bred to the business".

In 1785 John Bertie witnessed the baptism of his daughter Margaret's illegitimate child, James Mann in Arbroath.

John junior married Isabel Alexander on 3rd April 1789 and seven children were recorded to this union before John married again on 12th December 1820 to Agnes Napier.    John then fathered five more children with Agnes.     The first two children, both girls were baptised at St. Vigeans on 18th October 1792 and 1st January 1795 and called Anne and Jane respectively, the family then moved to Arbroath and by next year Janet was born on 20th September 1796.     A son called Robert Airth followed on 2nd September 1802 then a fourth girl, Eliza on 19th March 1804.     A second son, David, born on 29th November 1805 was followed by George who was baptised at St. Vigeans on 23rd June 1808.     Johns second family (mother - Agnes Napier) all born in Arbroath were Nestor 3rd June 1821, Helen 9th October 1822, John Eaton 1st September 1824, Marjory (sometimes called May) 16th July 1827 and finally Edward 28th November 1830.

John junior's second son David, when he was 26 years old, married Sarah Findlay in Arbroath on 3rd February 1832.    They produced six children. The first, a son named James Findlay was born in Arbroath on 2nd September 1833, then David junior arrived nearly two years to the day on 1st September 1835. A girl called Eliza, possibly after her aunt, was born on 15th August 1838 and a third son on 11th August 1843 was named Thomas Young.    Two stillborn children were then buried in Arbroath on 30th March 1847 and 4th November 1849.

David Bertie junior was christened on 4th September 1835.     At 24 years old he was probably living with his parents in South Street, Arbroath when he married Elizabeth Petrie on 30th December 1859 and they where in residence at 19 Old Shore Head certainly until his death at the early age of 40 on 20th February 1876. Elizabeth's parents were William Petrie and Isabel nee Greig.

A sea captain, David Bertie gained his Masters Certificate (No. 13,763) at Dundee in 1863.         He first commanded the Balgownie (Lloyds Reg. No. 2,321 from 1863-67 sailing to the south Pacific, west coast of North America, the Brazils and the River Plate.    When 32 years old he was appointed to command the sailing ship Caprera in 1868 from Captain J.Henderson.     The Caprera ( Reg. No.29235) was a vessel of 756 tons, length 157 feet and 32.7 broad. Built in 1860 at St. John, Newfoundland she was registered at Aberdeen to owners Nicol and Co12.

The couple had three children, Eliza born on 16th October 1860, Davina born 23rd July 1868 and a son also called David was born 10th May 1870.     Eliza and David's births were recorded in Arbroath, but Davina was born on her father's ship in the Atlantic Ocean near the Azores (latitude 37.40 north, longitude 36.20 west) on a return voyage between Liverpool and India. Davina was baptised at Limerick, Ireland on 25th July 1868 and the birth is registered at Somerset House as a sea born child.    David Bertie remained as Captain of the Caprera until 1873 when he was then 38 years old.    His address, given on his death in 1876 was 19 Old Shore Head, Arbroath.    This occurred on 20th February 1876 and was due to the effects of being struck by lightning.    The interment was recorded in the Cemetery book as no. 2936, compartment K, Lair 111. His daughter Davina would be seven years and seven months old. David survived his mother Sarah, who died on 28th June 1873 age 64 but his father, the elder David survived him by seven months, dying on 15th September 1876, both addresses given as 19 Old Shorehead. David senior's occupation was described as Master Mariner on his son's death certificate, the informant being his brother James of 9 Old Shorehead.    David junior's wife Elizabeth (Petrie) later moved to Dundee and prior to her death at 78 years old on 16th April 1914, was residing at 54 Polepark,

The census of 1881 recorded that Davina was living at 1 Princes Street, Arbroath and was described as a scholar, 12 years old, born at sea and a niece of the only other occupant Agnes Patterson.    She was given as head of household, a widow of 40 whose occupation was confectioner/grocer.    The address of Davina's mother and other sister and brother has yet to be found.

David, the son also became a captain of a steamship.    He married a Maltese girl and they had twin daughters.    His ship disappeared off Nova Scotia in about 1911.    His wife and daughters were later to visit 'Ned' and Davina in Liverpool prior to emigrating to Canada.

A more complete history of the entire Bertie family can be found in the research notes of Dr. David Bertie, dated 29th May 1988.

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Page from the Captains Log of the Caprera

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Davina Bertie who was blind for her last 51 years