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He was the son of Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsey and Martha Cokayne. He travelled on the Continent, in France and Italy from 1647 to 1652, attending the University of Padua in 1651. In 1654, he married Mary Massingberd, who died in the late 1650s, after bearing him one daughter:
- Lady Arabella Bertie (d. 28 February 1716), married Thomas Savage, 3rd Earl Rivers.
- Robert Bertie, 1st Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1660–1723)
- Rt. Hon. Peregrine Bertie (c. 1663–1711)
- Hon. Philip Bertie (c. 1664–1728), married Elizabeth Brabazon, daughter of William Brabazon, 3rd Earl of Meath, without issue
- Hon. Norris Bertie (c. 1666 – 27 August 1691)
- Hon. Albemarle Bertie (c. 1668–1742)
He contested Boston in 1661 and was returned to the Cavalier Parliament, in which he sat until he succeeded his father as Earl of Lindsey and Lord Great Chamberlain in 1666. In about 1670, he married a third time, to Lady Elizabeth Pope, daughter of Thomas Pope, 2nd Earl of Downe and widow of Sir Francis Lee, 4th Baronet. By her he had two children:
- Hon. Charles Bertie (c. 1683–1727)
- Lady Elizabeth Bertie, died unmarried
Lindsey had inherited an electoral interest at Stamford, on which his brother Peregrine had been returned since 1665. In a 1677 by-election, Lindsey treated the voters lavishly and secured the election of his candidate against that of the 4th Earl of Exeter, heretofore the predominant interest in the borough. For a brief period, both Peregrine and their younger brother Charles Bertie sat for the borough, but the Exclusion crisis in 1679 temporarily destroyed Lindsey's influence and both were turned out. Lindsey's brothers regained both seats at the 1685 election, but in 1689, he compromised with the 5th Earl of Exeter and each chose one member, Lindsey's brother Charles holding the seat until 1711. In 1694, he put in his younger son Philip at a by-election alongside Charles, but the Exeter interest put up a candidate again in 1698 and Philip did not stand.
- Lee, Frederick George (1883). The History, Description and Antiquities of the Prebendal Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Thame, in the County and Diocese of Oxford. London: Mitchell and Hughes. pp. 447–450.
- Watson, Paula (1983). "BERTIE, Robert I, Lord Willoughby de Eresby (1630-1701).". In Henning, B. D. (ed.). The House of Commons 1660-1690. The History of Parliament Trust.
- Collins, Arthur (1741). The Peerage of England. London: W. Strahan, J. F and C. Rivington. p. 379.
- Watson, Paula (1983). "Stamford". In Henning, B. D. (ed.). The House of Commons 1660-1690. The History of Parliament Trust.
- Watson, Paula (2002). "Stamford". In Hayton, David; Cruickshanks, Eveline; Handley, Stuart (eds.). The House of Commons 1690-1715. The History of Parliament Trust.