Rear-Admiral Charles Bertram
Rear-Admiral Charles Bertram (1777-1854)
Born on 20 April 1777, Charles Bertram was the son of Charles and Elizabeth Le Vavasseur dit Durell. He entered the Royal Navy as an able seaman and rose through the ranks to become Captain before his retirement, aftwards being given the rank of Rear-Admiral.
He was only 17 when he joined the navy in August 1794, serving as able seaman 1st class under the illustrious Jerseyman Philippe d'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon. In his Biographical Dictionary of Jersey George Balleine says that young Bertram joined HMS Nonsuch, but there is some doubt about this because, although Dauvergne was in charge of a flotilla of gunboats charged with defending the Channel Islands against possible invasion after the French declaration of war in 1793, the Nonsuch was converted to a floating battery in 1794.
Nevertheless, Dauvergne next served on the frigate HMS Anson and became a midshipman after two years. He was involved in a number of notable battles, being wounded in the 1795 Quiberon expedition and participating in the capture of the French ship Etoile on 20 March 1796 along with the vessels Galatea, Artois and Pomone, the last-named of which was itself captured by Galatea and Anson.
Bertram's exploits made him quite a hero at home in Jersey. On 23 July 1808 when he returned home on leave the Gazette printed a poem of welcome:
- As a fond mother with impatient joy,
- Clasps to her bosom her long-absent boy,
- With like emotions, waked by glorious feats,
- Caesarea now her gallant Bertram greets
This was quite something for a Lieutenant, but Bertram had been in the thick of several actions in the last ten years. He moved from HMS Anson to the Porcupine and was captured by the French while taking a prize to England and was a prisoner-of-war until 1799. He figured in an exchange of prisoners and was then appointed to the Endymion before serving as Lieutenant on the Dryad; leading a press-gang from Diligence and participating in the capture by the Loire of two French frigates, Libre and Rhin. Before his return to Jersey in 1808 he was severely wounded when, while First Lieutenent on the Emerald he landed with a force of marines, stormed a ford in the port of Vivero, boarded the large French schooler Apropos and set her on fire.
His first command on promotion to Commander was of the Persian, in which he was wrecked in the Caribbean. He was cleared of any blame by a court martial and given command of the Ariadne, retiring from the Navy in 1846 with the rank of Captain and returning to Jersey to live in Royal Crescent with his wife Susan, eldest daughter of Jacques Remon of St Aubin.
Several of his commissions and dispatches and his cutlass are now in the possession of La Société Jersiaise.