S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Burnett, Sir Digby Vere (metallurgy)

Born: 9 April 1875, Caputh, Perthshire, United Kingdom.
Died: 3 November 1958, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Digby V. Burnett, British mining engineer, was the son of Arthur Julian Burnett and his wife Louisa Caroline Alberta Coxe. He was educated at Marlborough College - a public school designed mainly for the education of the sons of the clergy - in Wiltshire, England. He came to the Witwatersrand in 1892 and for the next fourteen years worked on the mines, chiefly with H. Eckstein & Co. and Rand Mines. In 1898 he became a member of the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa (from 1902 the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa) and later contributed two papers to its Journal: "Some further improvement in appliances for the cyanide clean-up" (1904/5, Vol. 5) and "A quick treatment by cyanide of Black sands" (1905/6, Vol. 6). At this time (1905) he was cyanide manager at Crown Deep, Ltd., Johannesburg.

In 1906 Burnett went to the African west coast to become superintending engineer and general manager of Abbouteakoon & Fauti and other mines associated with the Edmund Davies Group. Three years later he became general manager of the Pigg's Peak Development Company, Swaziland, and in 1912 moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as manager of the Bushtick Mines and consulting engineer to R.R. Hollins. In 1916 he became consulting engineer to the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company in Salisbury (now Harare) and was promoted to general manager of the company in 1920 - a position he held for thirty years. Later he became also a resident director (and from 1934 managing director) of the company, and director of many other companies. In addition he served as chairman of the Cold Storage Commission of Southern Rhodesia for several years from 1938 and from about 1945 was a member, and then chairman, of the Rhodesian Iron and Steel Commission. He was knighted in 1945 and retired in 1950. He was survived by his wife, Hilda Flora Annette Burnett, and two children.

List of sources:
Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa. Proceedings, 1897-1899, Vol. 2, List of members.

Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa, 1904-1906, Vol. 5-6.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Burnett, Digby Vere / Burnett, Hilda Flora Annette.

National Archives Repository (TAB), Source MHG, Vol. 0, Ref. 8283/58: Death notice, Digby Vere Burnett.

Sir Digby Vere Burnett. http://www.gritquoy.com/genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I140449&tree=001Master

South African who's who, 1923/4, 1927/8, 1933, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1951.

Who was who, Vol. 5, 2nd ed. London: Adam & Black, 1964.

Compiled by: C. Plug