This unusual and interesting name is of Old French and early medieval English origin, from a term introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is an occupational surname for an official who was given the responsibility of ensuring that witnesses appeared in court when required to do so, a "summoner". The name derives from the Middle English "sumner, sumnor", from the Old French "sumoneor", itself derived from the Latin "submonitor", from the verb "submonere", to remind discreetly. The surname from this source is first recorded at the end of the 12th Century "see below), and the subsequent development of the name includes: Matthew le Sumener (1230, Kent), William le Sumnir (1279, Somerset), and John Somnour (1327, Cambridgeshire), while the modern forms range from Sumner and Sumpner to Somner, Simner and Simnor. John Bird Sumner (1780 - 1862) was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1848. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts two red chevrons on an Ermine field, the Crest being a lion's head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Sumonur, which was dated 1199, in the "Curia 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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