What turned Sutton into a girl name in 1963?

baby name, sutton, 1960s, television
Ina Balin as Sutton Meade

In 1963, the name Sutton, which had previously appeared in the U.S. baby name data only as a boy name, suddenly popped up as a girl name:

  • 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?

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 accustomed to getting what she wanted — started plotting her revenge.

After that, the name remained relatively unisex until 2012, when the usage for baby girls really began taking off:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Sutton in the U.S.
Usage of Sutton

What caused the surge?

Actress Sutton Foster, who’d been a Broadway star before making the jump to television with a starring role in the TV series Bunheads (2012-2013).

The name Sutton comes directly from the English surname Sutton, which means “south settlement.”

Would you consider using the name Sutton for your baby? (If so, for a boy or for a girl?)

Sources:

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