SUTTON, Richard (1674-1737), of Scofton, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1708 - 1710
28 Jan. 1712 - 23 July 1737

Family and Education

b. 16 Jan. 1674, 2nd s. of Robert Sutton of Averham, Notts. by Katherine, da. of Rev. William Sherborne, DD, of Pembridge, Herefs.; bro. of Sir Robert Sutton†.  m. bef. 1714, Catherine Tolher of Bruges, 2s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Ensign, Visct. Castleton’s Ft. 1690, capt. 1693, maj. 1697, half-pay 1698; maj. 8 Ft. 1701, lt.-col. 1702; brevet col. 1704; col. regt. of ft. 1709–12; brig.-gen. 1710; col. 19 Ft. 1712–15; c.-in-c. Bruges 1713–14; maj.-gen. 1727; col. 19 Ft. 1729–d.; lt.-gen. 1735; lt.-gov. Hull 1707–11; gov. 1711–15; clerk of Bd. of Green Cloth 1724–7; envoy extraordinary to Hesse-Cassel 1727–9, 1730–1, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel 1729, 1730–1 and Denmark 1729; gov. Guernsey 1733–5.2


The younger son of a cadet branch of the Suttons of Averham and Kelham, and thus a kinsman of Robert Sutton, 2nd Lord Lexington, Sutton decided early in life to embark on a military career. His initial patron appears to have been Viscount Castleton (George Saunderson*) in whose regiment he served during the Nine Years War. His progress through the ranks was halted by the peace of Ryswick and he was placed on the half-pay list. In June 1701 he was noted as being ‘otherwise provided for’, having been appointed major in Colonel Webb’s regiment in April of that year. With the renewal of hostilities in 1702, he resumed his progress up the ladder of preferment. After seeing action at Blenheim (and being deputed to guard the French prisoners) he was so exhausted as to be ‘almost wholly deprived of the use of his limbs’ by a ‘violent rheumatism’. On these grounds he petitioned the Queen for a wounded officer’s share of the bounty offered after the victory in order to effect a complete recovery. His service was rewarded, however, with promotion to the rank of brevet colonel, antedated to Blenheim. Nevertheless, he wrote to Adam de Cardonnel* early in 1705, playing on his previous sufferings and claiming that he deserved a regiment by virtue of his ‘service and seniority’.3

From at least as early as 1706 Sutton seems to have pinned his hopes for preferment on the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†). In May of that year he wrote to Newcastle in anticipation of the demise of the governor of Sheerness, but the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) had already earmarked the place for another officer. By June, he had switched his interest to the governorship of Teignmouth. Initially, Newcastle backed his pretensions, only to change his mind in favour of another client. Marlborough was also keen to satisfy Sutton elsewhere and suggested the governorship of New York. At this point his parliamentary ambitions came into play, making a domestic office preferable from his own and the ministry’s viewpoint. Thus, in the summer of 1707, he was appointed Newcastle’s deputy-governor at Hull. On 2 Feb. 1708 he was one of several officers, who had served as aides-de-camp, who petitioned the Commons complaining about arrears of pay. The House responded by passing a bill on their behalf without opposition.4

Sutton’s remarkable assurance that he would be returned to Parliament was vindicated by his uncontested election for Newark in 1708, a victory based on Newcastle’s support and the traditional Sutton interest in the borough, Lexington having been recorder until 1693. The Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) was in no doubt that he would support the ministry, marking his return as a ‘gain’ on his assessment of the new Parliament. Sutton may have missed the opening of the parliamentary session as he was in Ghent in early January 1709. However, he was back in London by 25 Jan. when he was appointed to an address committee. He voted for the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709 and for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710.5

Meanwhile, Sutton was still looking for military advancement, more especially a regiment of his own. After expressing an interest in those commanded by Colonel Alnutt and Lord Charlement, he acquired that belonging to General MacCartney in 1709, whereupon he promptly sought to exchange it for Colonel Webb’s after the latter had been wounded at Malplaquet. Sutton soon had need of recourse to his military employments since at the Newark election of 1710 he was beaten into third place by Richard Newdigate*. Although he petitioned the Commons, no action was taken. Having missed the 1710 campaign through illness, he seems to have met with some obstruction to the resumption of his military career. Certainly Henry St. John II* had to write persuasively to Marlborough on his behalf. He left for Flanders in April 1711. By June he was writing from the camp at Warde to request Newcastle’s help in securing General Wood’s horse regiment, but to no avail as it had already been promised to another. The death of Newcastle sent him scurrying back to England at the end of July 1711 with a message from Marlborough on the progress of the campaign. At the end of August, he wrote to Henry Watkins*, Marlborough’s judge-advocate, to thank the Duke for his ‘indulgence to me in giving me time to take care of my slender interests here’. The close links between Newcastle and the Earl of Oxford (Robert Harley*) probably enabled Sutton to benefit from the death of his patron by securing the government of Hull in succession to Newcastle. After continued delays prevented his early return to Flanders, Sutton sought to remain in England where he seems to have been much in the company of St. John and Swift. Thus, he was on hand to regain a seat in Parliament at Newark on the elevation of Sir Thomas Willoughby, 2nd Bt.*, to the peerage on 1 Jan. 1712. At the ensuing by-election Sutton defeated John Digby* with ease, probably because the old Newcastle interest, now under Harley’s influence, was put at his disposal. He had taken his seat by 18 Feb. when he was appointed to an inquiry committee into abuses in musters, clothing and army hospitals.6

Sutton easily weathered the transfer of power in the army from Marlborough to the Duke of Ormond and by May 1712 was back in Flanders where he stayed throughout the 1713 session of Parliament. He surmounted the obstacle of the Land Qualification Act with the help of the Duchess of Newcastle, ‘who resigned that valuable purchase of Boothby over to you in order to qualify yourself for a Member’, and his brother, who probably provided the money. Re-elected in 1713, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the allied forces at Bruges and seems to have remained abroad during the 1714 session as well. However, he must have returned to England at some point as he was given the important task of bringing over seven battalions of British troops from Flanders to help safeguard the succession after the Queen’s death. Sutton was classed as a Tory on the Worsley list, but of two other comparisons of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments one described him as a Whig and the other as a Tory. This apparent contradiction can be reconciled with reference to General William Cadogan’s* comment on the reliability of army officers that Brigadier Sutton was entirely dependent on the ministry. He continued to sit as a Whig, although sometimes supporting the opposition, until his death on 23 July 1737.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. W. Dickinson, Hist. Southwell, 183; Add. 22211, f. 174.
  • 2. J. Beattie, Eng. Court in Reign of Geo. I, 253.
  • 3. CJ, xiii. 609; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 82; Add. 61302, f. 95; 61296, f. 47; HMC Astley, 189.
  • 4. Add. 61296, ff. 49–52; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 548, 573–4, 594, 757, 765, 769, 784–5, 787.
  • 5. Add. 61310, f. 241; 61413, ff. 142–3.
  • 6. Add. 61296, f. 53; 33273, ff. 23, 98, 100–1, 109–10; 61313, ff. 164–5; 38852, f. 128; 70502, f. 496; Marlborough Letters and Despatches ed. Murray, ii. 648; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1227, 1383; Bolingbroke Corresp. i. 95, 140; Notts. RO, Portland mss DD4P/64/20/7, Sutton to Newcastle, 1 June 1711; HMC Portland, iv. 656; v. 26, 68; Swift Stella ed. Davis, 332, 349.
  • 7. Add. 38852, f. 151; 22211, f. 182; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss Pw2 424a, b, Sutton to Duchess of Newcastle, 10 Apr. 1713 N.S., Wenman to Sutton, 8 Apr. 1713; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 478.