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William (Billy) Bertram (1875–1957)

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This entry is from People Australia

William ‘Billy’ Bertram (1875-1957) fencer, grocer’s assistant, civil servant, trade unionist & Labor parliamentarian 

Birth: 11 January 1875 in Hamilton, Scotland, son of John Bertram (1849-1926), flesher, later carpenter, and Elizabeth, née Collins (1854-1923). Marriage: 4 October 1899 at Brisbane, Queensland, to May Elsie Foggitt. They had three sons and five daughters. Death: 11 June 1957, Queensland. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Arrived in Cooktown, Queensland, with family aboard Scotland on 4 September 1882. Educated at Warwick State School. Worked as fencer at Canning Downs then as an assistant grocer at Warwick.
  • To Brisbane in 1898. Was secretary of the Shop Assistants’ Union and the Brisbane branch of the Amalgamated Workers Association (later Australian Workers’ Union), also secretary of ‘Vanguard’ organisation in 1911 sugar strike. Then secretary of the Storemen and Packers’ Union and member of the Wages Board;
  • Amateur middleweight boxing champion in 1899 and 1900, he was later president of the Queensland Amateur Boxing and Wrestling Association.
  • Australian Labor Party member of the Legislative Assembly for Maree from 1912 to 1929. Chairman of Committees, 1916-1920. Speaker, 1920-1929.
  • Contested State seat of Woolloongabba in 1909, and Australian Senate in 1940.
  • From 1930 worked in Forestry Dept, Beerwah. In 1933 sub-foreman Kin Kin.
  • An enthusiastic member of the Caledonian Society and a Freemason.
  • Described by Premier Vince Gair in 1957 as “a tall, lithe, good-looking man, extremely amiable and friendly with… not only his own Party but members of the Opposition”.

Duncan Bruce Waterson and John Arnold, Biographical register of the Queensland Parliament 1930-1989 (Canberra, 1982).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Bertram, William (Billy) (1875–1957)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


11 January, 1875
Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland


11 June, 1957 (aged 82)
Queensland, Australia

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