Simon Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Simon Meaning
as a surname derived from the Hebrew Shimon which became 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 has many spelling variants.
It is also a popular Jewish name.
In England, the name took the patronymic form with the addition of “s”
(son of). So Simons and Simmons emerged there.

Simon Resources on

Simon Ancestry

Simon is a European name. Close to 200,000 bear that name
today. The following are the main numbers estimated by country:

  • in France, 75,000
  • in Belgium, 5,000
  • in Germany, 60,000
  • in Hungary, 25,000
  • and in Spain, 30,000.

France leads the way.
However, the
largest number of emigrants in the past
have come from
German-speaking lands, particularly to America. This reflects in
large part Jewish emigration.

England. Louis Simon, a hatter, arrived from France in
the 1770’s, married an Englishwoman, and settled in London. His son
Michael Simon
became a stockbroker, moved to Blackheath, and
was the father of fourteen children through
his two marriages. The sixth of them,
John, made his mark as a doctor and surgeon and served as the country’s
Medical Officer for twenty years from 1855.

Henry Simon came to
Manchester from Germany in 1860 with hardly a penny to his name. But he had had a strong engineering
background and within seven years he had established his own consulting
engineering practice. He was soon to set
in motion “the rollermilling revolution” to mechanize the milling of
flour in
England. His second son Ernest carried
on his work, became a Manchester dignitary, and was made the
first baron
of Wythenshawe.

Simon came from a Russian-Jewish merchant family
in China. He left for Britain in
the 1920’s. He became an expert in the
card-game of bridge, co-founding the Acol system of

America. The
Simon name
came with early Rhineland refugees to America. Johann
Wilhelm Simon arrived with his family in 1709
and eventually
settled in Dutchess county, New York.
However, much of his family later changed the name to the
English-sounding Simmons.

mid-19th century saw Simon migration from Europe
to America. Two families headed West
after their first landing in New York:

  • August
    Simon left his home in a village
    in Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1849, eventually settling to farm in
    Kansas. His brother Charles followed him
    in 1856. They helped found the community
    of Neuchatel, Kansas.
  • meanwhile
    Simon and his family from Hesse in Germany headed
    further West, reaching
    Portland, Oregon in 1857. His was one of
    the first Jewish families to settle there and his family remained an
    important family
    in the state. Son Joseph was elected to
    the Oregon State Senate and was US Senator for Oregon in 1898.
    Later, Norton
    Simon became rich from his industrial projects and founded the Norton
    Museum in Pasadena, California.

Simon came to America from a small village near Willebadessen in
Germany in
1881. He settled in Baltimore,
Maryland. His descendants hold a reunion
in nearby Patapsco Valley State Park each year. Another
Simon, this time from Bingen on the Rhine in Germany, arrived in 1890
and also
lived in Baltimore. But he moved around
more, first heading West to South Dakota and then returning East to
Pennsylvania. Bernhard had a number of
siblings in Germany who also made it to America.

The later 19th century saw many more Jewish arrivals, from German and
Russian lands, mainly to the New York area. Many must have
struggled in the early years. But many in the next and later
generations have left their mark on American life, notably:

  • in
    the arts – the playwright Neil Simon and the
    singer/songwriter Paul Simon are national treasures. There are also the
    concert pianist Abbey Simon and the singer Carly Simon (daughter of the
    publisher Dick Simon).
  • and
    in real estate – the shopping mall moguls Mel and Herb Simon and Bob
    Simon. the developer of the Reston community in Virginia, have been
    prominent in this regard.


Simon Miscellany

Simon in Various Forms.  The Simon name derived from the Hebrew personal name Shimon or Simeon, which means
“one who harkens.”  Simon developed
into a common surname throughout Europe.
Variants of the name are:

  • Jewish,
    Simeon, Simonski
  • in
    Simons and
  • in
    Ziemen and Ziemke
  • in
  • in
  • in
  • and
    in Poland, Siaspinski.

Simon Arrivals in America by Country of Origin

Country Numbers Percent
Germany   1,591    86
France     226     6
England     157     4
Russia     149     4
Total   2,123   100

Louis Michael Simon at Blackheath.  The Paragon
in Blackheath was Louis Michael Simon’s
place of residence for fifty five years.  It
lay on a private road, of crescent shape,
facing the south-eastern corner of Blackheath, with a private field in
front of
it.  Blackheath at that time was a country district offering only
coach services to London, five miles away.

were fourteen houses in The Paragon, built in seven blocks
by colonnades.  In the Simon family, No.
10 became an institution and at the last became almost legendary.   The Paragon in their mouths meant that
and no other.

the end of 1829 a family of fourteen children had come into the
world.  Four of them died young and the
remaining ten (four boys and six girls) were at that time of ages
ranging from
a few months to nearly twenty years.  The
family was wealthy and there were governesses, of whom tradition long
and there must have been servants as well.

Michael was then 47 years old and his wife Matilda 42.  His mode
addressing his wife was the “Til, my love,” which his descendants knew
so well,
while she would address him as “Simon,” as she did invariably to the
end of his
life.  She, like all at Blackheath and
most in the City, pronounced the name like the first two syllables of
the word
“Simonian.”  His figure was short and thickset, she was slight
but, when young, must
have been strong and active.

excellent portrait of Louis Michael, painted when
he was nearly 90 years of age, was treasured in the family.  With his benevolent expression, his flowing
white hair falling almost to his shoulders, his long frock-coat, his
cravat, his white top hat and gold-handled cane, he must have been a
picturesque figure.  It was recorded that
on his death all the shops in Blackheath were closed as a mark of
respect to his memory.

Simons from Hesse in Germany to America.  There were
two Simon brothers from Germany, David and Samuel, who left their home in Hesse for America in the early 1850’s.

headed West with his wife Elise and baby
son Joseph and eventually came to settle in the town of Portland in
buying farming land on what is now SE Powell Boulevard.
Son Joseph grew up to serve on the city
council and was elected to the US Senate for Oregon in 1898.  He was the head of a notable Jewish family in

brother Samuel initially headed for New Orleans, meeting his wife
Carolyn onboard the ship that took them there.
When the news of the gold discovery in California reached New
Samuel took his wife and infant daughter back to Germany and secured a
load of
goods which he took with his family to Sacramento, California.  However, after a great fire in Sacramento
destroyed all his merchandise, they moved back to Germany where
six more
children were born.  Eventually, on the
recommendation of his brother David, Samuel and his family moved to
Portland in

Samuel was always a
rover and it is estimated that he made in total thirteen voyages across
the Atlantic.

Neil Simon Growing Up in Washington Heights.  Neil
Simon the playwright grew up
in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan at the time of the Great Depression.  In Simon’s household financial
calamity was
conflated with family collapse and marital betrayal.

mother Mamie, had been disfigured as a young girl, scarred inside and
out when
her dress caught fire.  The man she
married, a garment salesman named Irving Simon, left the household “as
eight different times” for periods ranging from a month to a year,
recounted in his memoir Rewrites.  In
his absence, Mamie would give up her
bedroom in the family’s Washington Heights apartment to two tenants,
who paid half their rent in cash and the rest in unsold meat.  She also ran card parties, essentially a
small-scale gambling parlor, to make money.

On the occasions Irving Simon did return home,
he specialized in a certain kind of emotional torment, not just to his
wife but
to Neil as well.  He would buy fireworks
for the
boy’s birthday, then hand them all out to other kids, claiming he
didn’t want
Neil to hurt himself.  His means of
expressing tenderness was to tell Neil to pull a stick of gum or piece
of candy
from the stash in his overcoat pocket.

time when Neil ran a high fever that his mother’s cold compresses
break, he recalled in Rewrites: “She would curse my father for
absence and run out to the hallway, banging on the doors of neighbors
to help
her find a remedy, screaming up to a God who had once again abandoned

the parents
separated for good and the family was further shattered by poverty.  Neil and his mother went to live with cousins
while his older brother was sent to live with an aunt.  Neil
Simon has searing memories of losing his
own home and having to live as a dependent guest in someone else’s

It took him a long, very
long time, to tell this story in his plays.



Simon Names

  • Henry Simon was a German-born engineer who revolutionized Britain’s flour milling industry in the late 19th century. 
  • Dick Simon was the co-founder of the publishing house Simon & Shuster. His daughter is the singer Carly Simon
  • Mel and Herb Simon founded in 1960 what became the largest shopping mall company
    in America, the Simon Property Group. 
  • William E Simon was US Treasury Secretary from 1974 to 1977.   
  • Neil Simon is a well-known American playwright and screenwriter. 
  • Paul Simon is a highly-acclaimed American musician and

Select Simon Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 22,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Simon and Like Jewish Surnames

The Jews were banned from England in 1290 and did not return there until the 1650’s, sometimes in the form of Portuguese traders.  They were to make their mark as merchants and financers in London and many families prospered.  There was another larger Jewish influx in the late 1800’s.

In America the early settlement of Sephardic Jews was in Charleston, South Carolina.  In the 19th century Ashkenazi Jews started to arrive from Germany.  Later came a larger immigration from a wider Jewish diaspora.  Between 1880 and 1910 it is estimated that around two million Yiddish-speaking Jews, escaping discrimination and pogroms, arrived from the Russian empire and other parts of Eastern Europe.

Some Jewish surnames reflect ancient Biblical names, such as Cohen and Levy.  Some have come from early place-names where Jews resided, such as Dreyfus (from Trier), Halpern (from Heilbronn) and Shapiro (from Speyer).  Many more surnames came about when Ashkenazi Jews were compelled by Governments to adopt them in the early 1800’s.  The names chosen at that time were often ornamental ones – Bernstein or Goldberg or Rosenthal for example.  Then the name could change on arrival in America at Ellis Island.  And finally anti-Semitism perceived could cause further changes to conceal Jewishness.

Here are the stories of some of the Jewish surnames that you can check out here.




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