SuttonIt’s a place name and surname boosted by the small screen.

Our Baby Name of the Day is another 2013 Top 1000 debut: Sutton.

Sutton: On the Map

Sutton is a familiar place name, from the Old English words for south and enclosure. There are more than four dozen in England alone, and others throughout the English-speaking world.

It’s a familiar surname, too, worn by too many notables to count. There’s Crystal Lee Sutton, the real life union organizer behind the biopic Norma Rae, bank robber Willie Sutton, as well as politicians, athletes, artists, and others.

Sutton: Given Name

Like many a surname, you can find a handful of children given the name over the years, boys and girls alike.

There was a tiny uptick in girls named Sutton in the 1960s. In 1963, twenty newborn girls were given the name, and twelve in 1964.


  • Could the London neighborhood by the name have inspired parents? It wasn’t completely unknown – The Rolling Stones got their start as a bar band in a pub on Sutton High Street. But the Stones were just starting out in 1963, so the timing feels off.
  • The most famous bearer of the name, actress Sutton Foster, has said that her mother found it on television. Sutton was born in 1975 – a little late for the trend, but not unthinkable. What show? Foster says her mom forgot.

Foster’s explanation feels right, but I can’t pin down the character.

In more recent years, it’s no surprise to find an ends-in-n surname name on the rise. In 1985, there were 15 baby boys named Sutton, plus 8 girls. By 2000, those numbers were 41 boys and 20 girls.

Sutton: Stage and Screen

This name might have remained under-the-radar, except for two women: one fictional, and one very real.

Sutton Lenore Foster has been on Broadway since the mid-1990s. She’s won two Best Actress Tony Awards and starred in Bunheads from 2011 to 2012. She’s now playing Liza in TV Land’s Younger.

There’s also Sara Shepard’s series, The Lying Game. Shepard is a great namer – she also wrote Pretty Little Liars, the show that boosted Aria. A television version of The Lying Game ran on ABC Family for two seasons. In Game, Sutton is the twin sister of Emma.

It’s the perfect recipe for a slow-rise baby name. Plenty of future parents are watching Bunheads or The Lying Game, but because the shows aren’t mega-hits and the actresses aren’t superstars, there’s no fear that naming your daughter Sutton is like stealing a first name from Cameron (Diaz) or Blake (Lively). Sutton feels different and distinctive – and indeed, it was.

Sutton: Slow Rise

More recently, Sutton has gone from obscure unisex choice to stylish favorite for girls:

  • In 2002, when Foster won her first Tony Award, the name was given to 33 girls and 36 boys.
  • By 2012, Sutton had tipped from unisex to more popular for girls: 243 girls to 160 boys.
  • In 2013, Sutton entered the US Top 1000 for girls, ranking #830. That translates to 316 newborn girls.

Today, Sutton feels like a sister for Collins or Sloane. A preppy, unisex choice that’s far from common, but not unusual in our age of Madison and Marlowe.

We’ll have to wait for the new stats to see if Sutton continues to climb, but my guess is that we’ll hear much more from this newcomer.

What do you think of Sutton? Is it likely to catch on?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I first heard the name on The Bold Type and loved it. I wanted to name my daughter Ezra, but I met her and she was a Sutton. I don’t know why but it feels like the name of a woman that is a unique force to be reckoned with. My daughter is strong willed, smart, hilarious, sweet and fiery. I definitely received a lot of judgement about her name, but I still think it suits her perfectly.

  2. I hate it. I wouldn’t give the hairy eyeball to parents of baby-girl Sutton because it’s not that bad, but I just… nope, not for me. Ditto Sloane.

  3. Love this name. It’s on my list. We already have Hadley and Presley…not sure how well it goes with them though? And I like a good nickname and not sure this one has one.

    1. Here is what I found when I looked up the history of the name, “Sutton.” 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.