This interesting surname with variant spellings Sumpner, Somner, Sumner, Simner, Simnor, etc., is an occupational name for an official who was responsible for ensuring the appearance of witnesses in court, deriving from the Middle English "sumner, sumnor" meaning "summoner" or the Old French "sumoneor" meaning "to remind discreetly". The surname dates back to the late 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one Matthew le Sumener (1230) "Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Kent", and William le Sumnir (1279) "The Assize Court Rolls of Somerset". Church recordings include one Dyryke Sumner who was christened on June 16th 1546 at St. Kionis Backchurch, London, and Alice, daughter of William Somner, was christened on March 9th 1556 also at St. Dionis Backchurch. One William Somner (1598-1669) was an Anglo-Saxon scholar, registrary of Canterbury diocese for a while under Laud, a zealous antiquary and loyalist, wrote on Canterbury and Kent but is best known for his version of "Anglo-Saxon Laws" (1568) and his "Dictionarium Saxonico-Latine-Anglicum" (1659). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Sumonur, which was dated 1199, The Curia Regis Rolls of Leicestershire, during the reign of King John known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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