Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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SUTTON, RICHARD (1815-1870)

SUTTON, RICHARD, farmer, JP, JCP, MLA, and customs officer; b. Co. Wexford, Ireland, c1815; m. 1848, Mary Lowes, a native of England; d. Nelson, 12 Jul 1870.

Richard Sutton came to the Miramichi as a boy in the 1820s, possibly to join his somewhat older brother John Sutton, who was a successful farmer at Nelson. After his brother died accidentally in 1838, at age thirty-eight, he himself became the proprietor of one of Nelson's best farms. He also assumed a variety of civic and community responsibilities. In 1843, and for some years afterwards, he was a parish school trustee. In the same period, he was an overseer of the poor. He joined the 2nd Battalion of militia in 1846 as a lieutenant and was promoted to captain in 1859. He was named a justice of the peace in 1851 and had his appointment renewed in 1855. He took a long-term interest in the work of the Northumberland Agricultural Society, being a director in the 1850s and president for several years in the 1860s.

Sutton failed in an attempt to claim a seat in the House of Assembly in the election of 1850 but was successful in the 1854, 1856, and 1857 contests. "He is not a speaker," stated The Gleaner in 1856, but "merely a plain, practical, good common sense man ....He takes little or no part in debate and confines his attention chiefly to the local affairs of the county, with the nature of which he is quite familiar." The Gleaner underestimated him.

Sutton resigned his seat in 1857 to be appointed deputy treasurer of the port of Newcastle. In 1860 he was also appointed a justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. He resigned his position as deputy treasurer in 1865 to re-enter politics. He contested the election that year as a proponent of Confederation, to which he was a recent convert, and was again successful. He was re-elected in 1866 and was appointed in 1867 as provincial surveyor general in the administration of Premier Andrew R. Wetmore.

Sutton resigned his portfolio in 1869, lost his seat in the election of 1870, and died a short time afterwards, at age fifty-five. He was survived by his wife, Mary Lowes, and at least six children. His widow was remarried, in a Protestant ceremony, in 1876 to Edward Williston, but she may have been widowed again by 1885, when she moved from Chatham to Lancaster, Mass. She and some of the children were talented musically. The eldest daughter, Mary Jane Sutton, remained on the Miramichi for some time and taught music. She was later a civil servant in Ottawa. After her death in 1923 her remains were returned to Nelson and interred beside those of her father in the cemetery of St Patrick's Church. The other members of the family lived in New England, and the youngest daughter, Beatrice L. Sutton, was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music.


[m] official records [d] Advocate 14 Jul 1870 / Advocate 1 Mar 1876, 5 Jun 1895 (contains error), 27 Sep 1921; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 27 Nov 1838, 14 Feb 1844; 20 Jan 1852, 16 Feb 1852, 11 Aug 1855, 11 Oct 1856, 26 Dec 1857, 26 May 1860, 19 Jan 1861, 1 Nov 1862, 5 Nov 1864, 18 Feb 1865, 11 Mar 1865; Graves (contains errors); JHA 1867 (re. militia); Leader 11 May 1923; World 29 Apr 1885, 26 Sep 1885