Select Simon Surname Genealogy

Simon 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.

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Select 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.

Louis Simon, a hatter, arrived from France in the 1770’s, married an Englishwoman, and settled in London. His son Louis 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 Chief 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.

Skid 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 bidding.

AmericaThe 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.

The 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 David 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 Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. 
Bernhard 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 Bernhard 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.
Select Simon Miscellany

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

Select 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 singer/songwriter.

Select Simons 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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