Bertram Keightley

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Bertram Keightley
Crest on letterhead in 1938

Bertram Keightley (April 4, 1860 in Birkenhead, England – October 31, 1944 in India) was an English Theosophist best known for assisting H. P. Blavatsky in preparing The Secret Doctrine for publication. His coworker in that work was his nephew Dr. Archibald Keightley.

Mr. Bertram Keightley, one of the General Secretaries of the Indian Section, is an Englishman by birth, son of a Liverpool solicitor, and was born April 4, 1860. He was liberally educated and took the degree of Master of Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. He came into Theosophy through the study of mesmerism and the reading of Esoteric Buddhism. Early in 1884 he joined the Society, in company with Dr. A. Keightley and Mr. and Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, and during that year he was much with H. P. B. , in England, France, and Germany. In 1887, he joined with Dr. Keightley and the Countess Wachtmeister in organizing the Lansdowne Road household where H. P. B. lived for a long time, and he also assisted in the work of preparing the Secret Doctrine for the press. He visited America in 1890, and later went to India, where he was chosen General Secretary, which office he has since held.[1]

In a February 5, 1938 letter to Boris de Zirkoff, Mr. Keightley said:

Your letter of December 30th 1937, has just reached, having been forwarded from Adyar to the address at Benares where I lived for many years, and thence to me here, at Allahabad, whither I removed permanently in March last (1937), as above [Villa Italiana, 15 City Road 15, U. P. Allahabad, India]. This will now be my permanent address in India.[2]

His death was reported by The American Theosophist:

Through an English Theosophical paper we learn of the death of Mr. Bertram Keightley, a member of The Theosophical Society from its very early days and a close associate of Madame Blavatsky in the publication of The Secret Doctrine. He once visited America as H.P.B.'s special messenger, and he helped to found the Indian Section, of which he was the first General Secretary. Himself finely educated and a Barrister at Law, he helped Dr. Besant found the Central Hindu College 46 years ago. he died peacefully in Cawnpore at the age of 84.[3]

The crest on the letter has the motto "Possunt quia posse videntur," which means "They can because they think they can."

Additional resources


  1. "Some of Our Friends",The Theosophic Messenger 2.2 (November 1900), 27.
  2. Bertram Keightley letter to Boris de Zirkoff. February 5, 1938. Boris de Zirkoff Papers. Records Series 22. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  3. "Bertram Keightley," The American Theosophist 33.2 (February, 1945), 48.