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?