This uncommon surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a variant of the more familiar Sumner, itself an occupational name for an official who was responsible for the appearance of witnesses in court. The derivation is from the Middle English "sumner, sumnor", summoner (Old French "sumonear", Latin "submonitor" from "submonere", to remind discreetly), and a quotation from the Coventry Mystery Plays reads, "Sim Somnor, in haste wend thou thi way, Byd Joseph, and his wyff by name, At the coorte to appear this day, Him to purge of her defame". Job-descriptive surnames, such as this, originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Early examples of the name include: Matthew le Sumener (Kent, 1230), William le Sumnir (Somerset, 1279); and John Somnour (Cambridgeshire, 1327). in the modern idiom the name is variously spelt: Sumner, Sumpner, Somner, Simner and Simnor. On March 3rd 1722 Rachel, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Simner, was christened at St. Olave's, Southwark, London, and on September 21st 1729, Elizabeth, daughter of James and Mary Simnor, was christened in the same place. The marriage of John Simner to Winney Banes took place at St. Thomas, Dudley, Worcestershire, on November 3rd 1839. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Sumonur, which was dated 1199, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Leicestershire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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