The name Sutton, which had previously appeared in the U.S. baby name data as a boy name, suddenly popped up as a girl name in 1963:
- 1965: 11 baby girls named Sutton
- 1964: 12 baby girls named Sutton
- 1963: 20 baby girls named Sutton [gender-specific debut]
- 1962: unlisted
- 1961: unlisted
Why did it do this?
Because of a one-episode character on the short-lived TV western Stoney Burke (1962-1963).
In the episode “Child of Luxury,” which aired on October 15, 1962, a wealthy young woman named Sutton Meade (played by Ina Balin) developed a crush on rodeo rider Stoney Burke (played by Jack Lord). Stoney made it clear he wasn’t interested, so Sutton — who was used to getting what she wanted — started plotting her revenge.
The name Sutton, which is relatively unisex these days, comes from an English surname meaning “south settlement.”
Perhaps even more notable than the gender-switch of Sutton in 1963, though, was the spike in usage of Stoney the same year:
In fact, that spike catapulted Stoney up to the exact middle of the U.S. top 1,000:
- 1965: 98 baby boys named Stoney [rank: 749th]
- 1964: 109 baby boys named Stoney [rank: 740th]
- 1963: 259 baby boys named Stoney [rank: 500th]
- 1962: 54 baby boys named Stoney
- 1961: 15 baby boys named Stoney
These days Stoney is still primarily a male name, but usage for girls is on the rise:
- 2018: 19 baby boys and 15 (44%) baby girls named Stoney
- 2017: 12 baby boys and 7 (37%) baby girls named Stoney
- 2016: 15 baby boys and 5 (25%) baby girls named Stoney
Which name do you prefer, Sutton or Stoney? (And for which gender?)
- Child of Luxury – Stoney Burke – IMDB
- Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.