fonds RBU - Raymond Burton Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Raymond Burton Archive


  • 1399-1974 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.57 cubic metres

24 boxes, 11 rolls and 1 oversize folder

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Raymond Montague Burton was born in Leeds on 3 November 1917, the son of Montague Burton, founder of the Burton clothing business, and his wife Sophia Amelia Marks. Educated at Clifton College in Bristol and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, he took subsequently studied for an MBA at Harvard University in the US.

He served in the army during the Second World War, achieving the rank of Major, before joining the family business as a director with responsibility for the Burton property portfolio. As director he managed Peter Robinson, the ladies fashion store that had been acquired by the family, and oversaw its expansion from London to the regions. In 1946 he married Pamela Flatau.

In 1964 he created Top Shop, now Topshop, as an extension of Peter Robinson’s, selling fashions by young British designers such as Mary Quant. By the late 1970s there were 55 separate Topshop branches throughout the UK, accounting for a third of Burton’s profits. Burton also launched Topman in 1970 and oversaw the acquisition of Evans in 1971 and Dorothy Perkins in 1979, expanding the family’s retail business still further.

In 1981 Burton retired from his then position as president of the Burton Group and devoted himself increasingly to philanthropy, particularly in his native Yorkshire. He had long been an active supporter of the University of York, sponsoring the music department’s concert series for many years and funding the building of the Raymond Burton Library for Humanities Research in 2003. He also donated his large collection of books, manuscripts and other ephemera on the history of Yorkshire to the university, where it forms the Raymond Burton Archive.

Burton was active in York civic life, as a member and sponsor of York Civic Trust and the Merchants of the Staple (which he helped to re-establish), and sponsored a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in York Minster to mark the 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

In 1995 he was awarded a CBE for his charitable work. In 2000 the University of York awarded him an honorary doctorate.

He died on 5 February 2011.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 2006. Further additions were made to the archive in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Deeds, probate documents, accounts, letters, diaries and other papers concerning individuals and families in Yorkshire, 1587- 1880, including Rycharde Jackson, 1587-1588; Lord Scrope of Bolton, 1602; John van den Bempde of Hackness Hall, 1631-c.1716; Linsley family, 1683-1739; Soulby family, 1786-1822; Emma Sueyd, 1795; Sykes family of Sledmere Hall, 1801-1825; William Wilberforce, c.1806-1807; William and Joseph Whitaker, 1817-1844; Thomas Powlett, 1826-1839; Boulton family of Wortley, 1839-1849; Cayley Shadwell, 1851; W. B. Richardson, 1879; Coverdale Bilton, 1880; and Henry Holland, 1865.

Deeds, probate documents, correspondence, surveys, maps, plans, engravings and other records concerning places in the East Riding of Yorkshire, including Antholme, 1830; Beverley, 1785-1875; Buckton, 1818; Calwick, 1857; Drax, 1772; Flixton, 1716-1790; Foxholes, 1863-1865; Fulford and Gate Fulford, 1755-1841; Howden, 1830; Hull, c.1801-1843; Kirkham, 1784; Seaton Ross, 1811; Spaldington, 1810; Tickton, 1776; and Wintringham, 1879-1885; places in the North Riding of Yorkshire, including Aiskew, 1710; Aldbrough, 1812-1893; Bainbridge, 1679; Brandsby, 1804; Coverhead, 1820; Farndale, 1716; Hovingham, 1849; Hutton, 1654; Huttons Ambo, 1794-1869; Kirkby Moorside, 1635-1708; Malton, 1679-1901; Salton, 1879; Scarborough, 1863-1867; Swinton, 1744-1789; Thirsk, 1788; Thoralby, 1810; Wensley, 1826; and Whitby, 1792-1819; places in the West Riding of Yorkshire, including Allerton, 1676; Batley, 1836-1843; Bishopthorpe, n.d; Bradford, 1854-1862; Bramhope, 1712-1801; Crofton, 1813; Doncaster, 1774-1870; Halifax, 1856; Horsforth, 1831; Huddersfield, 1856-1894; Knaresborough, 1616; Leeds, 1804-1897; Lightcliffe, 1596; Pontefract, 1648-1797; Saddleworth, 1772-1849; Sheffield, 1607-1875; Shepley Lane Head and Greenfield, 1804; Upper Haugh, 1707; Wakefield, 1601-1795; Wath upon Dearn, 1852; and Campsall, 1771-1831; the City of York, 1399-c.1855; Darlington, 1820; Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, 1821-1825; and Manchester, [1722-1807].

Records concerning businesses, clubs and societies in Yorkshire, 19th century-1974, including boardgame manufactured by Rowntrees of York, n.d; letters and documents relating to the Yorkshire Union of Agricultural Clubs and the Central Chamber of Agriculture, 1906; and papers concerning the Society for the Prevention and Discouragement of Vice and Profaneness, 1810.

Manuscripts and printed books, including MS of ‘Yorkshire Arms and Antiquities’ purportedly by John Burton, n.d; volume of poems by W.S., c.1906; and a printed edition of ‘The Yorkshire Garland,’ n.d.

Uncatalogued material.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English
  • Latin

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A partial typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute. Please note that some accessions have not yet been catalogued.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

In addition to his archive, Dr Burton also donated his extensive collection of books and pamphlets on Yorkshire to the University of York Library Special Collections where they form the Raymond Burton Yorkshire Collection (Reference: SC-RBY). The donated books can be found by going to the online library catalogue: Select 'Advanced Search' and then select 'Provenance' in the drop down menu and search for 'Burton, Raymond'.

Related descriptions

Publication note

A transcript and commentary on the Pater Noster Gild accounts was published in Northern History journal as 'The Accounts of the Medieval Paternoster Gild of York' by P. M. Hoskin, March 2007.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 24.04.17.




Accession area