James Glass Bertram

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James Glass Bertram (1824-1892) was a British marine economist and writer.


One of the pioneers of cheap newspapers in Scotland has passed away in the person of Mr. James G. Bertram, a well-known writer. He died in his sixty-eighth year on the 3rd of March at Glasgow. Born in 1824 at Tilmouth, on the Borders, he went in his early youth to Edinburgh and entered the employment of Mr. Wm. Tait, the proprietor of Tait’s Magazine, to whom he became confidential clerk. The late Alexander Russel, afterwards editor of the Scotsman, was in Tait’s employ at the same time. In the early fifties Mr. Bertram drifted into journalism, and became editor of the North Briton, the first penny paper in Edinburgh. He also started a halfpenny evening print, The Bawbee. It, however, was before its time, and enjoyed only a brief career. Subsequently he joined the staff of the Glasgow News, a Conservative daily, started in 1873. Leaving the News, Mr. Bertram became a general contributor to newspapers and to magazines, such as the Quarterly Review, Blackwood’s Magazine, Fraser’s Magazine, Chambers’s Journal, especially on questions connected with the fisheries, agriculture, and sport. He wrote also a number of books, including a three-volume novel, entitled ‘The stolen Heir.’ His ‘Harvest of the Sea’ has passed through several editions. Among his other works were ‘Glimpses of Real Life, Theatrical and Bohemian,’ ‘The Outdoor Sports of Scotland,’ a collection of ‘Sporting anecdotes.’ and a series of cookery manuals, edited by him as "Jenny Wren." He likewise compiled for the late John Camden Hotten a ‘History of the Rod’ under the pseudonym of the "Rev. W. H. Cooper.’ At one time Mr. Bertram was on the stage, but did not find his true vocation behind the footlights. He was buried on Monday last in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.

– Obituary from The Athenæum, 12th March 1892

Born in Tillsmouth in 1824, James Glass Bertram was apprenticed in 1837 at the age of thirteen to Mr William Tait, proprietor of Tait's Edinburgh Magazine and rose to be his managing clerk and cashier before he was 21. He then joined a company of strolling players. Finding that he could not make a living by the stage, he returned to Edinburgh and set up as a bookseller and newsagent. In 1855 he was appointed the editor of the North Briton, it appeared twice weekly. Mr Bertram, who had latterly become the owner as well as the editor of the paper, had to sell it in 1872, though he remained the editor for a further year. He then moved to Glasgow to assist in the establishment of the Glasgow News in the conservative interest. During this period he wrote a three-volume novel called The Stolen Heir, a pantomime and a work on the fisheries, called Harvest of the Sea which went through several editions. After leaving the Glasgow News in 1874 he supported himself by freelance journalism. He died on 3 March 1892.

– Edin Dir; James Bertram. Some memories of books and events. Westminster, 1893


James Glass Bertram wrote several books that were published by John Camden Hotten. Among these are two of particular interest:

The Merry Order of St. Bridget — Personal recollections of the use of the rod
Published in 1857 under the pseudonym "Margaret Anson", this is one of the most famous works of Victorian flagellatory fiction.
Flagellation and the Flagellants — A History of the Rod in All Countries from the Earliest Period to the Present Time
Published in 1870 under the pseudonym "Reverend William M. Cooper", this is a non-fictional, scholarly book.


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