Select Simmons Miscellany



Here are some Simmons stories and accounts over the years:

Simmons and Variants in the 1891 English Census


The Simmons spelling has varied in England depending on where you were in the country.  The table below shows the breakdown by region for the Simmons, Simons, Symons, and Symonds spellings.

Numbers (000's)
Simmons
Simons
Symons
Symonds
Total 
East Anglia
   1.0
   0.3
    -
   1.1
   2.4
London
   2.5
   0.8    
   0.7   
   0.6
   4.6   
SE England
   3.9
   0.4
   0.1
   0.3
   4.7
SW England
   2.3
   0.2
   2.6
   0.9
   6.0
Elsewhere
   2.2
   2.3
   0.8
   1.0
   6.3
Total
  11.9
   4.0
   4.2
   3.9
  24.0

Simmons: Most were in London, followed by Sussex and then Kent.
Simons: London also led, but the name was more widely spread - to Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, Lancashire and south Wales.
Symons: Concentrated in Devon and Cornwall.
Symonds: Mainly in Norfolk, but also found in the west country (Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and the southwest).

The Simonds name was also around at that time but have been much fewer in number (less than a thousand) than those shown above.  It was the local spelling in Berkshire and surrounds.  William Simonds was a brewer and banker in Reading in the late 1700's. 


Simmons and Variants Today


There has been some consolidation around the Simmons spelling between 1891 and today.  In 1891, as the table above shows, Simmons accounted for just under 50% of all spellings.  Today it is closer to 70%.  The current estimated Simmons and variant numbers today are shown below.

Numbers (000's)
Simmons
Simons
Symons
Symonds
Total
UK
   25
    7    
    5    
    6
   43    
America
   57
    9
    1
    1
   68
Elsewhere
   15
    4
    6
    4
   29
Total
   97
   20
   17
   11
  134

Elsewhere above includes Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Simons is also a surname today in the Netherlands, Belgium and northern Germany.


Theories on the Origin of the Symonds Name

One theory about the origin of the Symonds name came from the Victorian writer and critic John Addington Symonds.  He wrote the following to a friend in 1865: 

“Although obscure at present, we happen to have a very long and full and varied pedigree dating from Adam Fitz Simon who was a large holder of lands in Hertfordshire, Essex and Norfolk under Bishop Odo. The family of Symonds, one branch of which I represent, was supposed to have descended from Adam Fitz Simon, Lord of St. Sever in Normandy.  

Adam received lands and manors in Threxton in Norfolk and Almeshoe in Hertfordshire and died sometime before 1118.  In the third generation after him, the family divided into two branches - the eldest continued to flourish for many generations in Hertfordshire and Essex (its most distinguished member being Richard Fitz Simon, one of the founders of the Order of the Garter); while the second branch settled in Norfolk at Threxton, Suffield, Ormesby, Runham Hall, and Cley by the Sea.  Already by the beginning of the 14th century, they had anglicized their patronym to Symonds.  

Our name was probably derived from Sigmund and not from Simon.  This accounts for the short 'y' and for the 'd' which survives in the termination.  Fitz Symond was the son of Siegmund and the accent fell upon the last syllable."

Another view of Symonds was that the west coast Symonds came indeed from Normandy.  The name there was pronounced "Simmonds."  On the other hand Symonds in Norfolk had its origin from a Danish fishing family which settled on a sandbank in Norfolk, now Great Yarmouth, in 1654.  The Symonds pronunciation here rhymed with diamonds.

 

Symonds at Dowlish Wake in Somerset

Edward Symonds, born around 1676, married Anne, the daughter of William Milbourne the miller at Dowlish Wake in Somerset, in 1702.  Four years later, his father-in-law died and Edward succeeded him as miller, taking over as the copyhold tenant of Dowlish water mill and also inheriting a small estate in Cudworth.  

Edward Symonds died in 1728 and his wife Anne in 1745.  But the Symonds family continued to hold Dowlish Wake mill on lifehold tenure for a long period well into the 19th century.



The Simmons of Seaford in Sussex


In 1858 Henry Simmons, four times bailiff of Seaford and a great benefactor to the parish church and its congregation, went in full court dress with other local dignitaries to Queen Victoria's court at St James's Palace.  There he offered a loyal address on the betrothal of Her Majesty's eldest daughter. 

Henry Simmons was related to other old Seaford families and gave various church items and stained glass windows as memorials.  In 1898 the Simmons Institute was built in Crouch Lane, his gift to the parish.  Dr J.G. Taylor recorded in his history The Parish Church of St Leonard, Seaford that Mrs Henry Simmons gave the carved oak pulpit in memory of her husband. 

The original of the surname was Seaman and one bearer of that name, Captain John Seaman, made his mark not in England but in America.  A religious non-conformist, he was forced to cross the Atlantic with his family in the 1640’s.  After some wanderings, he purchased land from the Messapequa Indians in 1643 and founded the town of Seaford, Long Island, where the last of his descendants died only a few years ago.

Back in England the Seaman name changed over time to Seamans,
Simons, Simmonds, Symonds, Symmonds, and finally to Simmons.


Simmons in Newfoundland

There were two stories about how the Simmons came to Newfoundland.  The first story was that two brothers arrived from Poole in Dorset, one of whom settled in Mosquito and was the forefather of all the Simmons in Newfoundland.  The second was that a Simmons came from the pirate stronghold of Saba in the Caribbean Leeward Islands where the Simmons had been since 1658.  Hemay have jumped ship in Newfoundland, thereby starting the Simmons line.
 



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