Dutton was born at Cuxhaven, Germany, where his father was British vice-consul, in 1818. He was educated at Hofwyl College, near Bern in Switzerland, and afterwards at the high school at Bremen in Germany. At 17, he went to Brazil as a junior clerk and was there for about five years, in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.
In 1839, he joined one of his brothers at Sydney, went overland to Melbourne, and followed mercantile pursuits for about 18 months, He then joined his brother Frederick at Adelaide and in 1842 or early in 1843, discovered copper at Kapunda, 45 miles north of Adelaide. He showed the specimen he had found to Captain Charles Bagot, who produced a similar specimen that his son had found in the same locality. The land was purchased and samples were sent to England, which showed a high percentage of copper. Dutton visited England in 1845 and sold his interest in the mine for a large sum. While in London, he prepared for publication his South Australia and its Mines, a work of 360 pages, a valuable contemporary account of the new colony published in 1846.
Dutton returned to South Australia in 1847 and in 1849, became a member of the Adelaide board of city commissioners. He was elected a member of the Legislative Council for East Adelaide in 1851 and sat until 1857, when he was elected to the House of Assembly as member for City of Adelaide (9 March 1857 to 18 March 1860) and then for Light (19 March 1860 to 22 Apr 1862; and 17 November 1862 to 28 September 1865). He was Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration in the Hanson government from 30 September 1857 to 2 June 1859, and was premier from 4 to 15 July 1863. He formed his second cabinet on 22 March 1865 and was premier and commissioner of public works until 20 September of the same year, when he became agent-general in London for South Australia. He was a good linguist, able to speak French, German and Portuguese, and had an excellent knowledge of business which enabled him to carry out his duties with success until his death on 25 January 1877.
Dutton was made a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1872.
F. S. Dutton's brother William Hampden Dutton (1805–1849) was pastoralist of Anlaby Station and miner at Kapunda, not to be confused with the unrelated William Pelham Dutton (1811–1878) who was born William Dutton in Sydney, shifted with his family to Tasmania in 1813 and was for many years captain of the brig Lady Mary Pelham, one of the ships chartered by the South Australian Company in 1836. Geoffrey Dutton, a descendant, warned against this confusion in his article on Francis Stacker Dutton in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- "Mr Francis Dutton". Parliament of South Australia.
- Dutton, Geoffrey, 'Dutton, Francis Stacker (1818–1877)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dutton-francis-stacker-2241/text2465, accessed 30 March 2012.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Dutton, Francis Stacker". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Parliament of South Australia - Dutton
- The South Australian Register and The South Australian Advertiser, 29 January 1877;
- F. Dutton, South Australia and its Mines;
- P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.
- "Our Agents-General.—No. 1.: Mr. Francis S. Dutton". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 21 April 1873. p. 6. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
|Premier of South Australia
4 July 1863 - 15 July 1863
|Premier of South Australia
22 March 1865 - 20 September 1865