Simmons Surname Genealogy

Simmons and its variants were derived from the Hebrew Shimon which
tended to
become Simeon in the Old Testament and Simon in the New (because of its
association with the Greek byname Simos meaning “snub-nosed.”)  The name spread throughout Europe in the
Middle Ages,
mainly because of the association with the apostle Simon Peter.
Simon may also have derived from the given
name Simund, a corruption of Sigmund, brought to England by the Normans.  One theory relates this to the origin of
the Symonds name
.  Simon could as well, in some places,
be a
corruption of Seaman.
surname spelling variations, because of regional differences, have been
Simons, Simonds, Symons, and Symonds.
  The Simmons spelling
accounts worldwide for about 70% of all these spellings today.

Simmons Resources on

Simmons Ancestry

spelling differences reflect regional variations, probably due to
pronunciation differences. Simmons
has been dominant in London and the
southeast.  Simons was also found there,
but to a lesser extent, as well as in the Midlands and south Wales;
Symons has been a name of the southwest (Devon and Cornwall) and
Symonds mainly of East Anglia.
  These differences were
evident in
the 1891 census

West of England
Symonds and Symons have been the main spellings in the west
country.  The place-name Simondesberge in Dorset (present-day
Symondsbury) was listed in the Domesday Book.  John Symonds was
the rector of North Stoke in Somerset
in 1380 and John Symondes a juror in Gloucestershire in 1382.
Later Symonds
families were to be found:

  • at the old manor house at Woodsford castle in Dorset where Thomas
    Symonds died in 1566
  • and at
    Dowlish Wake
    in Somerset,
    commencing with Edward Symonds the miller in 1706.

Those in Cornwall have tended to be Symons without the
“d.”   John Symons was MP for Helston in
1388. Later Symons were:

  • a family which began with the
    marriage of John and Ann Symons around 1680.  They were farmers
    at Ruan Lanihorne on the south coast.
  • another family which began with the
    marriage of William and Mary Symons at Newlyn, also on the south coast,
    in 1690.
  • James Symons nicknamed Cogden (the worthless one) who married in
    Breage in 1701.
  • and Walter
    Symons of Hatt House near Saltash who was High Sheriff of Cornwall in
    1735.  General Penn Symons of this family died of his wounds
    during the Boer War.

East Anglia.  The
Symonds at Suffield and later at Cley-on-the-Sea in Norfolk date from
the 1350’s.  The monumental brass to John Symonds, his wife Agnes
and eight children at St. Margaret’s church in Cley, completed in 1512,
has recently been restored.  Other Symonds were recorded at North
Walsham in Elizabethan times.  Symonds were later shipowners
in the fishing industry of Great Yarmouth.

The Rev. Edward Symonds of Black Nosley in Essex wrote a well-known
pamphlet at the time of Charles I.  His son Richard is remembered
for the eye-witness diary he kept of events during the Civil War.
Meanwhile the Rev. John Symonds was rector of Horringer church in
Suffolk in the early 1700’s.  There followed the Symonds naval
family from Bury St. Edmonds.

London and the Southeast  Simmons and Simons have been more numerous in London and the southeast
than Symons and Symonds elsewhere, but more recent.

Sussex date from 1553 in Seaford.  These
Simmons were said to have been Norse invaders who had settled there.  The name seems originally to have been Seaman.  The
Simmons of Seaford
remained connected with the sea and later
prominent local figures in the town.
Elsewhere in Sussex, there were Symons and Symonds spellings
until the
Simmons name seems to have established itself in the mid-1700’s.

Simmons became
the main spelling in Kent too.  John
Simons was married in Margate in 1689.  William
Simmonds was a freeman of Canterbury in 1722.
His son James Simmons became a printer, publishing the Kentish Gazette, and was the mayor of
Canterbury in 1772.  Alfred Simmons, a Maidstone journalist,
founded the Kent
union for agricultural laborers in the 1870’s.

The Simmons in London were
augmented by many Jewish Simmons.  The
earliest of them may have been Aaron Simmons, born in 1780, who was a
well-to-do businessman in Whitechapel in the early 19th century. His son Joshua was convicted of stealing and
transported to Tasmania in 1853.  The
Rev. Lawrence Mark Simmons, born in London in 1852, was minister at the
Place synagogue in Manchester; while his son the Rev. Vivian George
Simmons was
the minister at the West London synagogue.
This Simmons family had come to London from Germany in the

Wales.  The
Welsh patronymic “ap Simon” sometimes became the
surname Simons.  William Simons was a
19th century Registrar on the North Wales circuit who invested in gold
and later was a practicing solicitor in Merthyr Tydfil.
John Litchfield Simons, based in Wrexham,
started a travelling circus in north Wales in the late 1800’s.  The business is now in the fourth generation
of Simons.

America.  Simmons
in America can have English, Irish, Dutch, German, and Jewish origins.  This wide diversity probably explains why
there are more Simmons in America than in England.

Dutch  The
first Simmons in America was probably of
Dutch origin, the son of William Simonzoon from the Puritan center of
Leyden in
Holland.  He came to Plymouth on the Fortune in 1621, one year after the
arrival of the Mayflower.  His
name became Moses Simmons in the tax list
of 1633 and that was the form that he and his children used.  He was a prominent citizen of Duxbury and
his descendants are numerous.  His family
line was covered in Lorenzo Simmons’ 1930 book History of
the Simmons Family

William Simmons from Duxbury settled
in Little Compton, Rhode Island sometime in the 1690’s.  His
line produced James Simmons, US Senator
for Rhode Island in 1850, and John Simmons, a pioneer in ready-to-wear
and founder of Simmons College, a women’s liberal arts college.  They were seventh generation descendants of
Moses Simmons.

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in England came John Symonds, a joiner, who was
Salem, Massachusetts by 1636.   John
his sons James and Samuel were furniture makers, catering to the
members of the community.  Many of their
pieces have been handed down over generations.

German  Other early
arrivals were German.  The Simon name
from the Rhineland could become Simmons in America.
That was the case with immigrant Johann
Wilhelm Simon, a Palatine refugee, who arrived with his family in 1709
and eventually
settled in Dutchess county, New York.
However, many later Simon immigrants, particularly Jewish
remained Simon.

There was also a
Simmons Irish contingent in America.  The
best known is probably Michael Simmons, born into an Irish family in
who came west with his family in 1850 and was one of the first settlers
Puget Sound.

Caribbean.  Simmons
have been in the Caribbean island of Saba (in the Leeward Islands)
1658.  James Simmons was one of Morgan’s
pirates.  Many later were sea
captains.  There is a Major Omar Ralph
Simmons museum on the island today. 

Simmons came to Newfoundland
the mid-1700’s.  Samuel Simmons and his
wife Ann lived in an
area called Lower Island Cove.  The line
then went via their son William to their grandsons James and John, both
born in
Mosquito nearby in the early 1800’s.  The
family history was traced in Colin Simmons’ 2009 book The
Simmons Family of Newfoundland.

Peter Simons arrived in the Quebec City area from Scotland
in 1812, farmed and raised a family there.  His son John started a
store in town in 1840 which over the years expanded into the department
La Maison Simons, now spread over many locations in Canada and run by
latest generation of Simons, Peter and Richard. 

Simmons Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Simmons Names

John Addington Symonds was a
Victorian writer and poet who was an early advocate of the homosexual
Christian Symons
an English decorative
designer and painter of the late 19th century, best known for his
of Westminster Cathedral. 
Zalmon Simmons was the man who
popularized box spring mattresses in America in the early 1900’s.

Kennedy Simmonds became the first Prime
Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis in 1983.

Select Simmons Today

  • 25,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 66,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply