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Thomas Fowke Andrew Burnaby was the third son of John D. Burnaby of Evington, Leicestershire, a Colonel in the Grenadier Guards, and a magistrate. His grandfather was the Venerable Andrew Burnaby, Archdeacon of Leicester.
Burnaby spent all his working life as a solicitor in Newark. He went into partnership with William E. Tallents, the pre-eminent solicitor in Newark, in around 1832. The firm became Tallents, Burnaby and Griffin in around 1846, the senior partner at this time being William's son Godfrey Tallents (1811-1877).
Burnaby held a number of civic posts in Newark. He acted as Town Clerk from 1833 until 1873; Clerk of the Peace and Recorder for the Borough of Newark, 1833-1893; Clerk of the Peace for Nottinghamshire from 1858; and was also the Borough Coroner for Newark. The Dukes of Newcastle were clients of Tallents and Burnaby, and through this connection Burnaby acted as deputy steward of the manor of Newark. He was also chief steward of the manor of Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire, owned by the Earls Manvers.
He lived at Langford Hall near Newark, and latterly at Brampton Manor in Huntingdonshire, which was inherited by his son Henry Fowke Burnaby (1834-1917).