Lawrence Wilfred Burt


Leadbeater (centre) with Burt (centre, back row) and others, The Manor, Sydney, 1925

Burt succeeded David Morton Tweedie (1857-1941) as Regionary Bishop for Australia. He had been ordained a Priest by Bishop Wedgwood in Sydney in on 23 April 1917, and was consecrated as a Bishop by Bishop Tweedie, assisted by Bishop William Crawford of New Zealand on 28 May 1939.


He as Auxiliary Bishop for Australia from 1939 until 1941 when, following Tweedie’s death, he became Regionary Bishop.

Lawrence Wilfred Burt (1883-1962) was born at Rangiora in New Zealand, the son of John and Emma Burt. His father was an ostler, and in his early working life Burt described himself as a saddler.

On March 17, 1910, Burt married Josephine Mary Sewell, a singer known professionally as “Shasta Bertini”, at Brisbane, according to the Methodist rites, and they moved to New South Wales in 1914. They lived happily until 1924, but separated, under a deed, in September, 1925.

In 1926 Burt initiated unsuccessful divorce proceedings against his wife on the ground of her adultery, and the case resulted in extensive press coverage across Australia as a result of the unusual nature of the evidence given. Leadbeater was forced to give evidence in the case. See:


Truth (Sydney) 4 September, 1927 Disquiet

In 1934 Burt again initiated divorce proceedings against his wife on the ground of her adultery with George French Ewing, an American cellist who claimed to have a successful musical career in Hollywood. This time, Mrs Burt did not appear in court and, although the evidence was much less sensational than that given in the 1926 case, it was more persuasive, and Burt was granted the divorce, with Mrs Burt being ordered to pay the costs.


Truth (Brisbane) 26 August, 1934 Symphony

At the beginning of April 1935 the former Mrs Burt married George Ewing at the Sydney Registry Office, the couple planning to leave Australia to live in California.

Burt broadcast regularly on the Theosophical radio station, 2GB in Sydney, and his question and answer sessions proved very popular, leading to the production of a small magazine, “The St Alban’s Answer”. He also wrote a small book, Do the Dead Suffer? Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1939.


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