John SUTTON (1777-1863) & Sarah SUTTON (1778-1834)

Large grey granite headstone with oval shaped top.  Full inscription to follow
Photo credit Teresa Verney-Brookes

Life Story retold by Teresa Verney-Brookes

John Sutton founded the ‘House of Suttons’ brand in 1806. The business was originally located on King Street, Reading, where it specialised in growing and supplying corn (maize).

Black and white drawing showing the entrance to the stables of Suttons and Sons.  The building is central and a horse and cart (carrying materials for the business) can be seen going in and coming our of the building.
Suttons Stables, Reading Suttons. Source: Sutton Seeds website

Later in 1937, the business moved to Market Place, where his sons – Martin Hope Sutton and Alfred Sutton gradually diversified the company to specialise in the flower and vegetable seed trade.

Black and white drawing of Sutton & Sons  "Seed Establishment".  Several passers-by (Inn formal Victorian attire) are looking into the shop window
Source: Sutton Seeds website

According to Sutton Seeds A History (Earley Local History Group, 2006) John Sutton was born in London and was one of three sons and three daughters of James Sutton (1744-1789) and he moved to Reading at the turn of the eighteenth to nineteenth century to take of his inheritance of a mill on the Kennet. He married Sarah Norris of Shinfield, and they had three sons and three daughters.

The book also notes that both John and Sarah suffered from ill health – so much so that by 1827 John Sutton was unable to manage the firm – s0 his son “Martin Hope Sutton was bought in to help run the warehouse and then the office”. “John Sutton became a widower in 1834 and ‘he died at his home, Southampton Villa on the 31st May 1863”.

Suttons received Royal patronage in 1858, when Queen Victoria requested Martin Hope Sutton to supply seeds to the Royal household. By the 1870s Sutton and Sons was the world’s largest seed firm.

Poster/advert for Sutton's Seeds.  Cream background - has By [Royal] appointment crest at the top, in the centre is a large colourful image of a true full of vegetables.  Below this it reads 'For Profitable Market Gardening, Sutton & Sons, Reading, Seedmen by appointment to His Majesty the King
Source: Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) website

The honour of the Royal Warrant has been bestowed on the firm ever since – right up to the present day with Her Majesty the Queen and more recently with His Majesty the King.

Black and white photograph to the entrance to Suttons and Sons.  There are several black cars parked in the road which is in the foreground.
Source: Reading Museum Collection

Decorations were hung on the exterior of Suttons Seeds on the Forbury in anticipation of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

A black and white photograph of a parade of shops - including Sutton Seeds which are decorated for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  The parade is being admired by crowds of onlookers.
Source: Reading Museum Collection

In 1962, Sutton & Son moved to new premises situated on the main London to Bath road (A4). At the time, the premises were the most up to date of their kind in the country!

Faded black and white aerial photo of the old warehouses, offices and seed rooms etc of Suttons and Sons site.  All of the building are labelled with white writing
Source: Sutton Seeds Website

According to Corley (Berkshire Archeology Journal, 74, 1991-3) Martin Hope Sutton (Johns second son) described his father as “always respected in an uncommon degree by the inhabitants of [Reading] where he had lived for nearly thirty years as a respectable tradesman. His word was really ‘was as good as his oath’ “.

The Sutton Seeds website contains a full history of the Sutton Seeds business and lots of fabulous photographs such as the one below:

Black and white image of Sutton's Flowering Bulb ordering room - shows a large warehouse containing produce and some workers
Source: Sutton Seeds website

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading holds a collection of signs seed catalogues and other artifacts from Sutton Seeds plus there more information can be found about the company on their website.

For further information about John Sutton and his family refer to Corley’s article entitled The Making of a Berkshire Entrepreneur, Berkshire Archeological Journal 74, 1991 – 3

Photoraph of page 136 of an article written by TAB Corley entitled The Making of a Berkshire Entrepreneur, in the Berkshire Archeological Journal, 74, 1991-3.  The page also contains a black and white photograph of John Sutton who is smartly served in. large top hat.  He is holding gloved and a walking cane/stick and was taken c. 1850
SOURCE: T A B Corley’s article entitled The Making of a Berkshire Entrepreneur, Berkshire Archeological Journal 74, 1991 – 3

Also, the book – ‘Sutton Seeds – A History 1806-2006′ by Earley Local History Group (Cromwell Press, 2006)

Image of the cover of the book entitled 'Sutton Seeds - A History 1806-2006 The cover is brightly coloured and contains large images of 4 flowers and the tile of the book.

Buried in Section 45, Row A, Number 5