The English Origin of John1 Sutton of Hingham and Rehoboth, Massachusetts

by Eugene Cole Zubrinsky

A 2013 article of mine in this journal established that the widow of the 1638 immigrant John Sutton, previously known only by her forename, Julian, was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Eldred) Adcocke of Attleborough, Norfolk, England.[1] The article also proved that Julian was the mother of all Sutton’s children, with the unlikely exception of John2, his eldest child.[2] An extensive search for John1 Sutton’s baptismal and marriage records was unsuccessful, however, and the article could only estimate his birth and marriage dates: 1595 and 1620, respectively.[3] In the period since that research was conducted, searchable online databases and digitized records collections have grown in number and comprehensiveness. Aided by these developments and the publication of Julian’s identity, another researcher has located the parish records previously sought.[4] Further investigation and analysis have confirmed John1 Sutton’s geographical and family origin, augmented our knowledge of certain of his children, and caused a revision of their birth order.

About thirteen miles northeast of Attleborough on the outskirts of the city of Norwich (now within it) was the parish of Eaton, or Eaton St. Andrew, where on 22 October 1620, John Sutton married “Judeth” Adcock.[5] Evidence presented below proves that this was the immigrant couple, and that the groom had been baptized about thirty miles north of Attleborough and slightly nearer Eaton in the parish of Great Snoring on 14 July 1594, son of John and Dionysia/Dionis (Clements) Sutton.[6] The latter couple had married in Great Snoring on 5 July 1579[7] and after at least fifteen years there (perhaps many more), removed about seven miles north to the parish of Wells, or Wells-next-the-Sea. There on 2 March 1615[/6?] John Sutton, “millner” [miller], made his will leaving “houses Landes and tenements boeth free and Coppihold” and naming his daughter, Margaret; son, John; and wife, Dionis.[8] John Sutton, “mylner,” was buried in Wells on 22 March 1615[/6].[9]

That the John Sutton baptized in Great Snoring became the man who married Judith Adcocke in Eaton and later took his family to Massachusetts[10] is supported by the consonance between the vital-event data presented for him above (baptized 1594, married 1620) and those previously estimated (born 1595, married 1620). Reinforcement comes from onomastic evidence found in other Great Snoring parish records:[11]

Margareta Sutton, daughter of John Sutton, baptized 1 January 1588[/9] Margaret Seton [sic] and William Walker married 10 January 1618[/9] Judeth [sic] Walker, daughter of William and wife Margaret, baptized 24 June 1627

Margaret(a) Sutton, named in their father’s will with her brother, John1, is his only known sibling; his seventh child was named Margaret (see below). Theelder Margaret’s daughter’s name, Judith, is the same as that by which John1’s wife was sometimes recorded.

Additional Great Snoring records indirectly corroborate the foregoing account of John1 Sutton’s baptism and marriage, while also supplementing our knowledge of three of his previously identified children:[12]

Jhon [sic][13] Sutton, son of John and wife Juda, baptized 7 October 1621
Judeth Sutton, daughter of John Sutton and wife Judeth, buried 20 July 1631
Esther Sutton, daughter of John and wife Judith, baptized 1 April 1632

In these records, as with that of the Sutton–Adcocke marriage, the wife is not called Julian, the forename of John1 Sutton’s spouse as otherwise recorded in England and America, but Judith or a variant. Far outweighing this discrepancy, however, are the striking parallels with what is already known (and, as above, was estimated) about John1 Sutton and his family. The birth year of John1 Sutton’s eldest child, John2 — whose mother can now be confirmed as Julian Judith (Adcocke) — has long been calculated as being about 1621 (he was 70 in 1691).[14] John1’s daughter Judith (the name itself is significant) had been assumed to have died young;[15] the burial record above confirms it. His daughter Esther’s birth year had been roughly estimated as 1635.[16]

Esther’s actual baptismal date, in 1632, alters her place in the birth order of John1 and Julian/Judith (Adcocke) Sutton’s children and requires that the birth year estimates for her sisters Anne and Hannah be revised, further affecting the birth order. The following rearrangement incorporates the new data; the previous article, however, should be consulted for the many details not repeated here:[17]

  1. Ens. John2 Sutton, bp. Great Snoring 7 Oct. 1621.
  2. Elizabeth Sutton, bp. Great Saxham, Suffolk, 25 May 1623.
  3. Mary Sutton, bp. Great Saxham 10 Aug. 1625.
  4. Anne Sutton, b. ca. 1627.
  5. Judith Sutton, bp. Attleborough 27 Nov. 1629; bur. Great Snoring 20 July 1631.
  6. Esther Sutton, bp. Great Snoring 1 April 1632.
  7. Margaret Sutton, bp. Attleborough 30 Nov. 1637.
  8. Hannah Sutton, b. probably between 1638 and 1642 in Hingham, Mass.; d. there 13? Oct. 1642.

Eugene Cole “Gene” Zubrinsky, fasg, is a retired community college sociology instructor and former professional musician. He may be reached at GeneZub@aol.com.


1 Eugene Cole Zubrinsky, “Julian Adcocke, Wife of John1 Sutton of Hingham and Rehoboth, Massachusetts, and Their Family,” Register 167 (2013):7–14.

2 Ibid., Register 167:10, 12.

3 Ibid., Register 147:10–11, n. 27.

4 Linda Bullock, “John Sutton & Julian Adcocke’s Marriage,” email to the author, 30 December 2016.

5 Eaton St. Andrew, Norfolk, parish register, 1568–1758, p. 45, in England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1510–1997 (browse), online at FamilySearch.org, where this and subsequently cited parish register images are freely accessible. Subscribers of Ancestry.com will find the same images, brighter and sharper, on that website.

6 Great Snoring, Norfolk, parish register, 1560–1749, unpaginated [image 13], in Norfolk Parish Registers [note 5]. FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com incorrectly list the date as 24 March.

7 Great Snoring, Norfolk, parish register, 1560–1749 [note 6], [image 64], bride’s forename spelled Dyonisia.

8 Archdeaconry of Norwich will register Veeping, fol. 91, no. 42, digital copy from Norfolk Record Office, microfilm MF/RO 311/3; will proved 7 May 1616.

9 Wells, Norfolk, parish register, 1548–1659, cx [image 61], in Norfolk Parish Registers [note 5].

10 Online accounts, of which there are many, differ as to whether John1 Sutton migrated from Hingham to Rehoboth in 1642 or 1643 but agree that he conveyed Hingham lands to his son, John2, about that same time; all these assertions are considerably wide of the mark. In 1653 John Sutton “junior” of Situate, carpenter, sold a 4-acre house-lot and a 12-acre parcel, both of which the town had granted his father (Suffolk Deeds, Liber III [Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1885], 401–403); there is no record, however, of the transfer from father to son. The earliest extant records of Rehoboth proprietors meetings are dated in October and December 1643, not at Rehoboth but Weymouth, where the new town’s principal organizers and largest contingent of initial migrants still resided; settlement by families almost certainly did not begin until 1644. In June of that year, John Sutton participated in a division of Rehoboth woodland (Leonard Bliss, The History of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts… [Boston: Otis, Broaders, 1836], 27). In January 1644[/5], however, he was one of 18 men who “have forfeited their lots for not fencing, or not removing their families according to a former order” (ibid., 29–30). Most of these, including Sutton, were nevertheless among the proprietors who registered their land holdings about that time (ibid., 31). In June 1645, he was one of those who drew lots for a division on Rehoboth’s great plain (ibid., 34). On 26 December 1645, however, “it was voted that the house-lot and the rest of the accommodations that was laid out for John Sutton, forasmuch as he hath not come to live amongst us, nor fulfilled the order agreed upon, and bearing date the 24th of the 8th month [October] 1643, be granted to William Devell” (ibid., 36). Finally, on “the 11th of the 11th mo. 1648 [11 January 1648/9]… the lot that was given unto George Robinson, being forfeited into the town’s hands, was given unto John Sutton” (ibid., 41). The Suttons were either unable to realize their plans to remove from Hingham to Rehoboth in 1644 or undecided about doing so. Five more years elapsed before they followed a path already taken by some of their neighbors. It is reasonable to suppose that they spent those extra years in Hingham, and that only at the end of that period did John1 deed his home-lot to his son.

11 Great Snoring parish register, 1560–1749 [note 6], [images 11, 23, 68].

12 Ibid. [images 21, 26, 101].

13FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com mistakenly list this record under Thos. and Thon Sutton.

14 Zubrinsky, “Julian Adcocke” [note 1], Register 167:8, 12.

15 Ibid., Register 167:9–10, 13.

16 Ibid., Register 167:13.

17 See ibid., Register 167:12–14.