Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Sim, Sims, Simms, Simes, Symms, Simis, and Symes, this is an English medieval surname, which is also recorded in both Scotland and Ireland. It derives from the given name "Simme", a late form of the Greek personal name "Simon", itself ultimately from the Hebrew name "Shimeon" meaning "he who hears". In English versions of the Old Testament, the personal name appears both as Shimeon and Simeon, but in the New Testament it generally takes the form Simon. The surname is a Crusader creation. That is to say it is one of a group of biblical names which were brought back to Europe in the 12th century by the returning knights from the Holy Land, known as the Crusaders. It became the practice for these warrior pilgrims to call their subsequent children by biblical names, in honour of the fathers deeds. The practice spread rapidly causing the extinction of many ancient names of Europe, and eventually these new baptismal names in time also developed into surnames. Amongst the earliest recordings of the surname in England is that of Ralph Simme who appears in the Assize Court rolls of the county of Kent in 1234, and that of John Symme in the court rolls of the borough of Colchester in 1345. Where it occurs the final "s" is a reduced form of "son of". Early examples include Robert Symmes in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, and Christopher Sims of Berkshire, listed in the register of the University of Oxford for 1594. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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