This is a very rare surname of Medieval English origin, and is a local and dialectal variant of the more familiar name 'Simnel(l)', found recorded in only a small number of English counties; Derbyshire, Devonshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. Simnes is one of the medieval diminutive forms of the male personal name 'Simon', from its direct diminutive 'Sim'. The personal name derives from the Hebrew name 'Shim'on', thought to be derived from the verb 'sham'a', to hearken. In the Old Testament the name appears as 'Simeon', but in the New as 'Simon', by association with the existing Greek byname 'Simon', from 'simos', snub-nosed. The latter form was very popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, and generated a large number of variant forms. The change from 'i' to 'u' in Simnell and Sumnell is found also in Simner and Sumner from 'summoner', a court official. Elizabeth Sumnall was christened at Wellington in Shropshire on October 19th 1796. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Sumnell (marriage to Mary Sullocke), which was dated July 30th 1630, Malborough, Devonshire, during the reign of King Charles 1, 'The Martyr', 1625-1649. 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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