Sutton is one of those names that was acquired through the location of the family in its early history. It is from the Anglo-Saxon words, sudh, meaning "south", and tun, meaning "town". Therefore the name designated "the family of Southtown."
The families of Sutton and Dudley, whose histories are inextricably mingled by intermarriage and relationship, are ancient ones in England, dating before the eleventh century.
In 1251, in the reign of Henry III, Rowland de Sutton married a daughter of the noted family of Lexington. John de Sutton was Lord of Malpas and Shocklech in 1329. There is record of many lands being given to John, son of Richard de Sutton, by Edward III. Isabella de Sutton, after the death of her husband, Sir John de Sutton, in 1359, married Sir Richard de Dudley. Upon her death the estates of the combined families were inherited by her grandson, John Sutton. Among these estates was the famous Dudley Castle.
Other branches of the family were held in high esteem by the people of Holderness in the Province of York, and in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The family played a large part in the history of the British Isles.
The center of the Suttons in New England was New Jersey in that section then known as East Jersey, although the descendants of the family have now scattered throughout the United States.
The first of the Suttons of whom record can be found was William Sutton who came to Massachusetts in 1666, but it is believed by many authorities that he was of the second generation of the family to come to the Colonies. He was a Quaker and the holder of large tracts of land. His children were Alice, Thomas, Mary, John, Judah, Richard, Joseph (who died in early youth), Benjamin, Daniel, and Joseph. Many of these children of William Sutton settled in New Jersey. It is generally supposed that William had one or more brothers with him when he emigrated to "The New World", but the family was of such an adventurous disposition that its members seldom stayed in any one location long enough to be on record. Traces of the Suttons are to be found in the histories of every frontier in America.
Among the many members of the family to serve in the Revolutionary War were Jonathan and Uriah, brothers, who held commissions as Captains. There were more than twenty-five Suttons from New Jersey alone, and many more from the state of Massachusetts.
A few of those who have distinguished the name of Sutton through the years are--Charles Manners Sutton, Bishop of Norwich in 1792 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1805; his son, Sir Charles Manners Sutton, member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge and Speaker of the House of Commons for many years; and Sir Richard Sutton, Under-Secretary of State and Lord of the Treasury, created Baronet in 1772.
The most favored Christian names of the early Suttons in America were Joseph, John, Daniel, and Thomas.
There are two coats-of-arms which belong to the families from which the American Suttons are descended. The first, that of the Sutton Dudleys, is "Or, two Lion's passant, bordure engrailed Azure. Crest: Out of a Viscount's coronet Or, pearled Angent, a lion's head Azure, collared gold." The second, that of the Suttons of Nottingham, is "Quarterly, 1st and 4th Argent, a canton sa., for Sutton; 2nd and 3rd Argent, a cross fleury Azure, for Lexington. Crest: wolf's head, erased gu. Motto: Tout Jours Prest."
The Suttons were a courageous and adventurous family. They have held high positions both in England and in America. Their outstanding characteristics were strength of character, bravery, wisdom, faith in God, and tenacity of purpose. The heritage of the name of Sutton is in itself an honor and a title.
Submitted by: Wellinton Sutton 3/31/98
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