Sutton, Sir Richard (1853-1891) GB

Category: OWNERS

01245VSir Richard Francis Sutton, 5th Baronet (20 December 1853 – 25 February 1891) was the owner of the racing yacht Genesta with which he raced the Puritan for the America's Cup in 1885.
He was married to Constance Corbet, daughter of Sir Vincent Corbet, Bt., and had a son (Sir Richard Vincent Sutton, 6th Baronet, see bellow) who succeeded him posthumously. He was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1887.

The Sutton Baronetcy, of Norwood Park in the County of Nottingham, was created in the Baronetage of Great Britain on 14 October 1772 for the politician Richard Sutton. He was the second surviving son of the distinguished diplomat Sir Robert Sutton. The latter was the grandson of Henry Sutton, brother of Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton. Hugh Clement Sutton (1867–1928), son of The Henry George Sutton, sixth son of the second Baronet, was a Major-General in the British Army. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the family seat was at Benham Place. However, the house was sold in 1982.

Sir Richard Vincent Sutton, 6th Baronet
(26 April 1891 – 29 November 1918)

Sutton fought as a Lieutenant in the First World War and was wounded in action in October 1914. He was one of the richest men in England, owning 13,000 acres (53 km2) and part of the West End in London. His engagement was announced in 1916. He was succeeded by his uncle.


Genesta was a typical English cutter designed by John Beavor-Webb. Her frame was of steel, and she was planked with oak, being the first yacht of composite build to sail for the cup. He reached New York on July 16th, 1885, after a 22 day crossing, the fastest passage on record for a sailing yacht across the Atlantic. Sir Richard Sutton and John Beavor-Webb arrived a few days later.

Here is a first review for Sir Richard Sutton published before races by The New York Times August 31, 1885:


A prominent yachtsman said yesterday:
“The course of Sir Richard Sutton in endeavoring to conceal the qualities of his boat is not calculated to impress American yachtsmen at all favorably. He assumes an air of superiority, as if we had everything to learn from him, while he could not possibly learn anything from us. If he had stood less aloof and shown a disposition to try his boat with some of ours when opportunity offered, he would have awakened a much more cordial feeling. But, of course, he is the best judge of what he wants to accomplish. There is one thing his treatment by American yachtsmen presents an agreeable contrast to the treatment the latter receive when they cross the ocean in their own boats. He has been let severely alone, while it is notorious that as soon as an American yacht arrives in English waters she is dogged and blanketed and beset in a way that reflects little credit on English yachtsmen. Finding fault with the New-York Club course, of which I will venture to say they had pretty accurate knowledge before they came over, and objecting to dry dock the Genesta at any place where she can be seen, may accord with English ideas of sportsmanlike conduct, but it looks to the American eye more like querulousness and a purely business propensity to haggle. It almost forces one to the conclusion that Sir Richard Sutton has been hoodwinked into allowing his boat to be used for advertising purposes.

After the accident on September 8 in which Puritan was disqualified, American opinion on Sir Richard Sutton was no longer the same as evidenced by this article published by The New York Times September 10, 1885.


“Sir Richard Sutton is the most popular man just now in America !“
02339SThis remark was made last night at the Union Club to Sir William Levinge, Sir Richard's brother-in-law, by a well known New-Yorker. Sir William laughed at the remark, and possibly may have rated it as one of those polite speeches that clever men of the world always have at their tongue’s end, but it he could have heard the conversation in business circles yesterday, and in the clubs and hotel vestibules last evening, he would not have taken it for flattery. As a matter of fact, the very handsome behavior of Sir Richard Sutton on Tuesday in declaring that he wanted a race and not a walk-over was the talk of the town. It was spoken of and praised on every hand, and not a few persons who did not understand that the mishap was entirely accidental were inclined to be severe on the owners of the Puritan.

In justice to these gentlemen, however, it must be said that they disclaim any intention to try sharp practice on the Englishman, and say that they unwittingly got into a predicament which forced them to choose the lesser of two evils. They discovered that to attempt to go to the leeward would have made the Puritan run plump into the hull of the Genesta, and rather than do that they decided to cross her bows and run the chance of letting her bowsprit tear the Puritan's mainsail. This statement is corroborated by E. M. Padelford the representative of the Genesta on board the Puritan, who says he was perfectly satisfied that the collision was entirely accidental.

Sir Richard Sutton on Tuesday evening addressed a very polite note to Mr. Forbes saying that he was convinced the collision was purely accidental, that the cost of repairing the yacht would be trifling, and that he could not think of allowing the owners of the Puritan to pay it.

The fine showing of Genesta, and Sir Richard Sutton's broad sportsmanship, created a more friendly feeling in this country toward English yachtsmen than had previously existed. We could afford to be generous after beating such a worthy opponent, while the conduct of Sir Richard in the incident of the foul won him the regard of all classes. His health was copiously drunk at a reception given in his honor September 24th, by the New York Yacht Club, and he was made an honorary member of the club.

After the Cup races, Sir Richard Sutton sailed some regattas organised on the East coast, aboard Genesta. He won the Brenton Reef Cup and the Cape May Challenge Cup, and brought them back to England with him.

After his return to England Sir Richard Sutton was engaged to a young lady who became seriously ill; he desired to sell Genesta but as he found no purchaser he raced her, but only a few times. Genesta won the first Round Britain Race that was held in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. But by this time Irex had found herself and Genesta was outclassed.

Sir Richard gave up racing, selling Genesta; she was later converted to a yawl and was finally broken up in 1900. Sir Richard died of peritonitis on February 25, 1891. He was a spirited yachtsman and a good sportsman; it was unfortunate that his own ill health and that of his wife shortened his racing career. Genesta was one of the finest vessels which have competed for the America's Cup, and though she was defeated she was admired by all.