Library & Archives Blog – Percy Burnett Collections

In the archives we hold an extensive collection of legal documents, articles and historical recollections of Whitby and the surrounding parishes; documenting major events. These had been gathered and written by Percy Burnett during his employment with the Urban District Council where he was employed from 1st April 1925 till 31st March 1965. He began work as Rate Collector then becoming Deputy Treasurer from 1941.

He was the son of Thomas Edward Burnett; a butcher on Sandgate, which was where he was born in 1903. Percy was also a keen contributor to The Whitby Naturalists’ Club; the Secretary and Treasurer from 1935 to 1953 and played pivotal roles at the Whitby Museum as an Honorary Curator of Local History from 1947 to Honorary Librarian from 1959. Alan Appleton paid homage to Percy Burnett saying it has proved invaluable when compiling his book ‘Whitby Timeline‘ (which is available to purchase from the Whitby Museum Gift Shop).

I decided to select the book 1-219 in a collection called ‘Brown Books’, although they are blue! The first document talks about Mr Watson’s Carpenters shop in Sneaton and the conditions laid down for the gathering of ‘witch wood’ which claimed that “witches must have had a hard time of it!” and would have “kept many a witch at bay”. The next document talks about Sneaton Castle which according to its owner Colonel Wilson was considered “a thing of beauty and joy”, not just for him but also for the inhabitants of Whitby. I have to agree it is pretty impressive when meandering up its drive.

Percy Burnett died on 27th September 1972 but his work lives on in our archives which are available for public access through appointment. Contact to book an appointment.


Appleton, A (2022), Percy Burnett (page 245), Whitby Timeline 3rd Edition, Published: Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, Printed: Jetprint, Whitby.

Claire Marris Archive Development Officer