Royal Army Medical Corps
Bertram was born around St. Pancras, Camden in 1861/1862. His birth entry could have been recorded in June 1861 and therefore born just up to three months earlier. He is not recorded on the 1861 census where his sister, Fanny Maud was aged 1. It is, therefore, more than feasible that he was born after April 7th and before 1st July 1861.
In 1871, at age 9 (turning 10) he was living at 3 Bellina Villas, Kentish Town with Mother, Fanny nee Morley (widow) with at least 1 older and 2 younger sisters and one younger brother - Fanny Maud, Percy Carew, Dora Emily and Eliza (Effie) C. His father, William Edward Essex had since died inter-census between 1861 and 1871. Also in the house at the time were Alice Gray, Governess, Sarah Drage Servant/Cook and Martha Hansan, Servant Housemaid.
Although no evidence can be found, he joined the military between 1876 (when he was over 15) and 1881, as he no longer appears in his mother’s house at 47 Fortress Road, Kentish Town.
He married Jean Cameron Martin on 27th April 1886 at St Giles, Whittington, Lichfield in Staffordshire and it is more than likely that Bertram was stationed at nearby Whittington Barracks at the time.
By 1888, they had started their family and first daughter, Elsie Cameron Essex was born in this year. Following soon after, in 1889, their first son, Stanley Pelham was born at Salford.
1891 census shows him now resident at Seaforth Barracks, Merseyside posted with the Lancashire Artillery. It was whilst stationed here that Gladys Dora, born 15th August 1891 in Liverpool.
By 1893 the family were posted to Valetta in Malta, where two of the three existing children died within days of each other. Whether by accident or disease, Bertram and Jean could not have been anything other than devastated by the loss of both of them so young and so quickly - that loss immortalised by the words on the gravestone at Pieta Military Cemetery, near Valetta. They remained in, or returned to Malta by 1895, when second son, Percy Clifford was born. This is the year in which Bertram joined Wayfarers Lodge.
Bertram Edward (junior) was born in Holloway 1898, the family having therefore returned from Malta. Bertram already had ties to Colchester as he had joined United Lodge in March of this year. Proof of his more permanent residence is provided by the birth of his daughter Hilda Maud, who was born in Colchester c.1900, and certainly confirmed when the family (although Percy is staying with his grandma, Fanny and Bertram Snr. is goes unrecorded) are shown living in quarters at “Tilehurst”, 60 Mersea Road in Colchester, with a Domestic/Servant - Myra E Carey also resident.
By the time of the 1911 Census, Bertram Edward Essex is now aged 49. He is still serving with the military, and in still with the RAMC. The place is Cairo, Egypt. His family are with him, but this census shows what we had previously learned, that out of the 6 children they had in the 24 years of marriage thus far, only 4 survived.
This was to be his last posting though, as he died a year or so later in Cairo. Probate for the death shows that “Bertram Edward Essex of The Citadel Cairo Egypt, a captain R.A.M.C. died 15th December 1912 at The Citadel Hospital Cairo Administration (with Will). London 28th January (1915) to Jean Cameron Essex widow. Effects totalled £143 4s 9d”. The Citadel Military Hospital Cairo is now the Military Museum of Egypt.
- Jean Cameron 1866- 1948 Wife, nee Martin was Scottish, born at Alford, Aberdeenshire to Louis and Catherine Martin. Following Bertram’s death, Jean was resident at 5 Lewisham Road, Camden in 1915 and was living around the Camden area until at least 1938, when the family or elements of the family moved to Ripon / Yorkshire. Died at Harrogate 22nd October 1948. The note at probate is obviously incorrect as it states Bertram was an Air Commodore in the R.A.F., proved by a) he was an RAMC Captain and b) died in Cairo on active service.
- Elsie Cameron 1888 - 1893 Born at Lichfield. She died 30th November 1893 when overseas with the family in Malta and is interred at Pieta Military Cemetery.
- Stanley Pelham 1889 - 1893 Born at Salford, Lancashire. He died when overseas with the family in Malta 11th December 1893 and interred and commemorated with his sister at Pieta Military Cemetery.
- Gladys Dora 1891-1968 Born 15th August 1891 at Liverpool and baptised 13th September 1891 at St. Thomas Church, Seaforth.
- Percy Clifford 1895 – 1916 Born in Malta. Served in World War 1 in the 28th (City of London) Bn (Artists Rifles) as a Sergeant. Attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the 5th Reserve Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers in July 2016. He was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but fell at the Battle of the Somme 9th September 1916. Commemorated at Thiepval.
- Bertram Edward 1898 - 1916 Born at Holloway. Baptised 24th November 1897 Holloway, London. By the 1930s he is living in Morodon Road, Camden.
- Hilda Maud 1900 - 1985 Born in Colchester. Died in Claro, North Yorkshire.
The majority of his military service is unrecorded, but he was undoubtedly a career soldier initially with the Medical Staff Corps (MSC) and subsequently with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), rising through the ranks to Honorary Captain and Quartermaster. The clues to his military service are in his Masonic career and the records of the birth of his children which allude to his movement around the Empire.
By virtue of the honorary nature of his later commission, Bertram had previously attested and signed up for long service in the Colours. He was 37 in 1899 when commissioned, so theoretically could have been joined as early as 14.
Possibly posted to the following places as part of Garrison support in a military hospital. Liverpool, Lichfield, Malta, London, Egypt and Colchester. Although he is evidently a long serving soldier, there is no evidence to say that he was involved in any major campaign which resulted in Service medals being issued.
At the time of his masonic initiation in 1891 he was serving at The Barracks at Seaforth, Merseyside and recorded as a Staff Sergeant “M.S.C” aged 29, a fact which is also recorded on the register of baptism for his daughter Gladys. There is no history of promotion or military tradecraft before this date.
- 1891 Posted to Seaforth Barracks, Merseyside
- 14th July 1891 Staff Sergeant, Medical Staff Corps (MSC) – (Wilbraham Lodge)
- 1893 Posted to Valetta, Malta
- 1898 Posted to United Kingdom
- 2nd March 1898 Sergeant-Major Medical Staff – (United Lodge)
- 6th December 1899 Promoted to honorary rank of Lieutenant, RAMC (Harts Army List)
- 1903 Posted to Military Hospital, Colchester (Comrades)
- 6th August 1903 Lieutenant & Quartermaster, RAMC (Comrades Lodge)
- 6th June 1908 Lieutenant (Bulwer Lodge of Cairo)
- 6th December 1909 Promoted to honorary rank of Captain, RAMC (London Gazette)
On face value it seems that Bertram was slightly itinerant in his Masonic Service. It is not a good start that with his mother Lodge, he was excluded for non-payment of subscriptions. This was repeated with United Lodge, but is it probably at Malta when he took more interest. It is possible that he went through the chair at Wayfarers Lodge, as he is promoted later to Past District Grand Director of Ceremonies (Malta).
It is surprising, following the annotation in Grand Lodge records about being “Struck Off” that we see his petition to become the Master of Comrades. It can only be said that to take the principal position that he must have been respected by Angel and United Lodges at the time (so possible he did actually pay his arrears)
His name appears on the Warrant of Constitution as petitioner and as first Worshipful Master, consecration taking place on 6th August 1903. He retained his membership of Comrades until his death, but upon posting he joined further lodges in Cairo. Either being unhappy with Bulwer Lodge of Cairo or sensing another “Founder” opportunity he resigned and became Founder of Lord Kitchener Lodge in 1909.
- Initiated: 14th July 1891
- Passed: 11th August 1891
- Raised 16th September 1891
- Grand Lodge Certificate: 5th October 1891
- PDGDC (Malta)
- ProvJGD (Essex) June 1904