Sutton Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Sutton Meaning
Sutton is derived from the place-name Sutton, meaning “south
town,” which was fairly widespread in England. It first
appeared as a surname – as Sudtone and as Suttuna – in the Domesday
Book of 1086.
Sutton Resources on

Sutton Ancestry

Sutton place-names brought about some early Sutton surnames, in
Yorkshire, Essex, and Nottinghamshire:

  • Saier de Sutton was Lord of Sutton in Holderness in the late 12th
    century. The Hull river was said to have been first called the
    Sayer river after him. He built Branceholme castle as his
    home. His descendants were influential in the early history of
    the port of Hull.
  • Sir William de Sutton married into the Bataille family in 1289
    and received the Wivenhoe manor in Essex.
  • and Hervey
    de Sutton
    was Lord of Sutton upon Trent in
    Nottinghamshire in the 1250’s (it was said that he was the great
    grandson of a Saxon tenant called Hervey de Sutton in the year 1079).

From Hervey de Sutton came:

  • Oliver Sutton, the bishop
    Lincoln in the 1280’s and 90’s who joined Archbishop Winchelsey in
    resisting the
    taxation imposed by Edward 1 in 1296
  • Sir John Sutton, who combined the
    estates of the Sutton and Dudley families and inherited Dudley castle
    in Staffordshire
  • and, later on, Thomas Sutton who married Elizabeth
    Dudley and continued the Dudley relationship.

Thomas Sutton was one of the chief moneylenders of Elizabethan England,
securing loans worth for as little as a few shillings or for as much
as thousands of pounds to everyone from farmers to some of the most
prominent courtiers, business people, and politicians of his era:

“When Sutton died in 1611,
he was considered one of the richest individuals in England.
Sutton’s accounts
showed that he was personally worth over ₤50,000, mostly in the form of
outstanding obligations and recognizances from the many people in debt
to him. This immense wealth earned Sutton the nicknames among his
contemporaries of ‘Croesus’ and ‘Riche Sutton.'”

Later lines of these Suttons have included:

  • Robert Sutton, a Royalist
    at the time of the Civil War
  • Sir
    Robert Sutton the diplomat

    (famed in
    horseracing circles for having brought to England the original Arabian
    grey from which all thoroughbred greys are descended)
  • and indirectly,
    through his maternal grandfather, Charles Manners Sutton who was
    appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1805.

These Suttons tended to be Nottinghamshire based. But the main
geographic locations of Suttons by the 19th century were:

  • north and
    west, from Staffordshire stretching into Lancashire. The Suttons
    of Sutton Hall near Macclesfield in Cheshire date from the 12th century
    (the male line, however, ran out in 1601). Sutton family
    histories have begun with: Henry Sutton, born in 1718 in Horton,
    Staffordshire; John Sutton, born in 1735 in Formby, Lancashire; and the
    marriage of William and Mary Sutton in Hoole church in Cheshire in 1768.
  • or around London
    and the southeast. A Sutton family held land on the Essex/Suffolk
    border from early times. George Sutton, the early emigrant to
    came from an Essex family and grew up in Tenterden in Kent.
    Philpot John Sutton, a later emigrant, came from Lydden in Kent.

Ireland. The Sutton
name in Ireland is an old one, having been brought there by Sir Roger
de Sutton with Strongbow’s invading army in 1170. These Suttons
established themselves in county Wexford where they were substantial
landowners. Their main stronghold was Ballykeerogue castle.
There were also Suttons
at Clonmines
and at Great Clonard.

Nicholas Sutton of this family visited Spain in 1579. An account
of his journey has been preserved in manuscript form at the British
Museum. The Sutton Clonard branch, beginning with Thomas Sutton
in the 15th century, commanded a large merchant fleet in the late 17th
century. However, they were James II supporters in 1689 and,
after his defeat, took their fleet to Spain. Later Michael Sutton
became Don Miguel Sutton and was ennobled as Conde de Clonard.

Suttons remained in Wexford. George Sutton came to Newfoundland
in the 1790’s and later settled to farm in New Brunswick. A
number of Suttons from Wexford emigrated to Canada
and Australia in the 19th century.

America. John Sutton came to
Massachusetts from Lincolnshire in 1638 and settled in Hingham.
His son Joseph moved to Westchester county, New York and then to Long

But the first Sutton recorded in America is thought to have been George
Sutton. He came to Massachusetts from Kent on the Hercules in 1634 at the age of 21
as one of the servants of Nathaniel Tilden, a former mayor of
Tenterden. A year
later he married the boss’s daughter.

family’s later association with the Quakers has tended to reinforce the
belief that Daniel Sutton of Burlington county, New Jersey and William
, an influential Quaker in Woodbridge/Piscataway, New
were his sons. After the Plymouth colony had enacted penal laws
against the Quakers in 1668, these Suttons departed Massachusetts, with
George Sutton migrating to North Carolina. Many of the children
settled in New Jersey.

Another Quaker
Sutton line began with Thomas and Joseph Sutton, brothers, who settled
the Byram river in Connecticut in the late 1600’s.
Among the 15 or more graves of Suttons in the
old burying ground on Milton Point in Rye are some that date back

Thomas remained in Connecticut. A
descendant, Benjamin Sutton,
had his problems during the Revolutionary War and
departed for Vermont. Meanwhile, Joseph
Sutton was the forebear of the Suttons in New Castle, Delaware; while
presumably another brother, settled in New Jersey in the 1670’s, close
to Baptistown.

“In 19th century New Jersey, the
family of Suttons was so numerous, that, in the writer’s opinion, to
bear the name and to derive ancestry from the state is almost proof of
membership in it. There were, for the most part, farmers and
artisans, attached to the Baptist or Presbyterian creeds, and located
chiefly in the northern half of the state – the east Jersey of colonial

More than twenty five Sutton descendants from New Jersey fought in the
Revolutionary War (including the brothers Jonathan and Uriah who held
commissions as captains), as well as others from Massachusetts. There
were also Sutton descendants in North Carolina and Virginia – as
recorded in T. Dix Sutton’s 1941 book The
Suttons of Caroline County, Virginia.
Family descendants
are now widely spread around America.

John and James Sutton were
two brothers from New
Jersey who migrated west to St. Louis in the 1810’s and prospered there
as blacksmiths.

Canada. A
Sutton family from Staffordshire emigrated to Canada in 1903, joining
the Barr
colony to settle in Saskatoon in the Canadian Prairies.
Joseph Sutton bought the Empire Hotel there
and prospered. Daughter Patricia wrote a
book about her memories of the crossing and her life as a young girl in
entitled No English Need Apply.

Australia. Richard and
Mary Sutton were lured to Australia in 1853 by the gold prospects in
Victoria. Although they settled in Ballarat Richard soon gave up gold

“Seeking amusement at night in his tent
he set about constructing a concertina, a device that had been invented
by Charles Wheatstone, the father of the telegraph.”

Soon he had started a small music shop, bringing musical instruments
and sheet music to Ballarat. This was the beginning of Sutton’s
Musical Emporium which traded in Melbourne for the next hundred
years. His son Henry Sutton achieved renown in
Australia as an inventor.

From Ireland in 1839 had come John Sutton and his family to work on the
land in Western Australia as indentured servants. John in time
became the keeper of the Mandurah ferry. After his death in 1857
his nephew Henry developed the family’s dairy and cattle business in
Mandurah. The homestead that he built in 1880 stayed with the
family until 1977.


Sutton Miscellany

Hervey de Sutton.  Hervey De Sutton was the lord of Sutton
upon Trent near Tuxford in Nottinghamshire.  Various
origins have been given for the Suttons.
But a deed cited by Dugdale suggests that they are of the
Suttons.  John, his son who married
Margaret de Someri, styled himself Johannes filius Johannis de Sutton
Trent, dominus of Dudley, in 1284.   He had three sons: Robert who died without
children; Richard who had one daughter; and Rowland.
The main Sutton line went via this third son

James Henry Mason’s 1987 book The Dudley Genealogies
“Hervey de Sutton was a great grandson of Hervey de Sutton, a Saxon
of Earl Allan at Sudton or Southtown in 1079.”

Sir Robert Sutton and the Arabian Grey.  Sir Robert Sutton was the
English ambassador to Constantinople in the early 18th century.  He is, however, best known for having
the Arabian grey to England.  It wasn’t
easy, he said:

difficulty of
finding handsome Arab mares is incredible.
The Arabs were all robbers who depended on their mares for their
livelihood and these mares were shared among five or six people and
valued at
most extravagant rates.  When a Frank
(European) appears to buy them, the price is always unreasonably

Alcocks Arabian was a grey horse imported to
England from Constantinople in 1704 by Sir Robert Sutton.
When sold on this stallion was known as the
Brownlow or Lordship’s Turk.  The
stallion is responsible for the continuous line of greys found in the
English thoroughbred
breed today.

Clonmines Suttons in County Wexford.  There were
three main castles at Clonmines, owned by the Suttons, Purcells,
and Fitzhenrys.  The Sutton
castle was a large structure and this branch of the family,
deprived of their estate, managed somehow to cling onto the old
paternal home
as tenants to the Annessleys until the late 1840’s.
The last of them was evicted at that time,
but not before he had taken down the upper portion of the walls and
the old tower which he then converted into a dwelling house.

Many nearby farming families claimed kinship
with the Clonmines Suttons and were
said to regard their relationship to that family with manifest pride.  The reason was that through the long penal
years in Ireland, these Suttons fought
the good fight and kept true to the Catholic faith.

Sutton of Long Graigue, who had his burial place in the
attached to the old parish church of St. Nicholas’s at Clonmines, was
of this
Clonmines Sutton family.  His
branch became Protestants and were
therefore more opulent than his Catholic kindred.

William Sutton of New Jersey.  William Sutton
first appeared at Barnstable on Cape Cod, where in 1666 he was hauled into
court and fined for purloining the Bible from the meeting house: “one pound and for telling a lie about the same, ten shillings.” His departure from the town was probably
expedited by these occurrences, and a few weeks later, at the
settlement of Eastham, he took refuge in matrimony with Damaris Bishop.  They had ten children, the first three born
in Eastham and the rest born in Piscataway, New Jersey.

to Albert and Arnie Outlaw’s Outlaw Genealogy,
the quest of religious
freedom was probably the main reason for his move.
At the New Jersey colony he was an
influential Quaker.  On or near the
Partian river, not far from the present town of New Brunswick, William
settled and prospered.  Known for his
fair dealings with the Indians, the wolves in the forest were his only
In 1682 he was the owner of 249 acres of
land and he held the office of freeholder constable and town clerk.  In 1713 he was spoken of as an aged man and he
was later buried in the Quaker churchyard in Woodbridge.

Benjamin Sutton, A Quaker at the Time of the Revolutionary War.  Benjamin was an ardent and
devout Quaker who refused to carry a gun or fight for either side in the Revolution.  The Tories captured him and
nearly beat him to death, trying to make him join the militia and then
had him
thrown into the Sugar House prison in New York.

When Benjamin was thirty and his wife Jemima twenty eight, they decided
to migrate to Vermont.  Family tradition
has it that they made the trip through dense forests, over mountain
trails and
sometimes along game trails, Benjamin walking while Jemima rode their
horse.  The story makes no mention of any
children traveling with them.  However,
history credits them with fourteen children, from whom descended the
Vermont Suttons.

John and James Sutton, Two Brothers from New Jersey.  John and
James Sutton were the two eldest sons of John and Catherine Sutton of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

In 1817, John set out for St. Louis.  James
followed and, after a prolonged illness
while travelling through Ohio, arrived there in 1819. The two brothers
set up a
blacksmith’s shop at Second and Spruce Street.  They
were not only horseshoers, but were also clever iron manufacturers
as well.  They made iron nails and
induced people to use them instead of wooden peg in the timbers of
houses.  Early customers included William
Carr Lane, the first mayor of St. Louis, and Alexander McNair, first
of Missouri.

John Sutton never married
and died in 1830.

thrived.  He is credited with
introducing iron-clad
wheels and iron and steel-pointed plows (the Sutton plow).
He married Ann Wells of St. Louis in 1829 and
bought land outside the town.  He first built a log cabin there
then, in
1832, the family homestead and a storehouse in an area that was to
become known
as Maplewood.

the county was separated from the city of St. Louis, the first meetings
of the
fledgling county government were held at the Sutton mansion in
Maplewood.  James’ son Henry was appointed
as first
presiding justice of its county court.

and Ann raised eleven children there.
Their home stayed with the Sutton family until the death of
their son
John in 1909.

Henry Sutton the Australian Inventor.  His father
Richard founded a music firm in a tent on the Ballarat goldfield in 1854.  Henry grew up interested in science
and engineering (he had read all the scientific books in the well-stocked Ballarat Mechanics’
Institute by the time he was fourteen).
The models and machines that he developed were ingenious and his
drawings revealed great talent.  He won a
silver medal and thirty other prizes for drawing at the Ballarat School

According to his friend Withers,
Sutton designed an electric continuous current dynamo with a practical
armature as early as 1870.  A year later
Belgian Gramme showed the French Academy of Sciences his own improved
the Gramme Dynamo, which used the same principles as Sutton’s.  When it was found in 1873 that the device was
reversible and could be used as an electric motor the rapid development
of the
electrical industry followed.

Less than
a year after Bell had received his patent in 1876, Sutton had devised
constructed more than twenty different telephones, sixteen of which
patented by others.  Bell visited
Ballarat to see a complete telephone system installed by Sutton in the

In some respects his most interesting work was in the field of what has
since become television.  He claimed in
the late 1880’s to have designed, but not constructed, an apparatus
that would
transmit to Ballarat the running of the Melbourne Cup.


Sutton Names

  • Thomas Sutton, a moneylender, was thought to have been the
    richest commoner in Elizabethan England.
  • Charles Manners Sutton was
    Archbishop of Canterbury from 1805 to 1828.
  • Henry Sutton pioneered telephones in Australia, developed an early prototype of the
    television, and built the first Australian motor car.
  • Don Sutton was an American baseball pitcher, primarily with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His career win total of 324 ranked him fourteenth amongst all major league pitchers.

Select Sutton Numbers Today

  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 23,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Sutton and Like Surnames.

The Anglo-Saxon word tun meaning “settlement” gave rise to many place-names with the suffix “-ton.”  And the place-name could become a surname describing someone who came from that place.  Sometimes the name was specific to just one location; but often the place-name could be found in various places and the surname would also crop up in a number of locations.  These are some of these place-name surnames that you can check out here.





Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply