Percy Bernard Barnett was born in Aston, Birmingham, England on 12 September 1882. He was the son of John Barnett, a stove and lamp maker, and the former Fanny Powell. He had three known siblings, all brothers, and the 1891 and 1901 census records show that the family lived in Handsworth, Staffordshire.
Records show that in 1909 Barnett was junior assistant purser aboard Carmania and by 1911 was the same aboard the Franconia and Saxonia.
In April 1912 Barnett was serving as assistant purser the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
In the following years Barnett continued to work at sea in the merchant fleet during WWI. He moved to Manchester where, in 1924, he married Rhoda Hardie.
He died in Manchester in 1932 at the age of 50.