Syme History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the name Syme is long and rich in history. It begins among the Boernicians of the Scottish/English Borderlands, where the name was derived from the Medieval given name Sim which was derived from Simon, but denoted son of Simon. [1]

Early Origins of the Syme family

The surname Syme was first found in East Lothian, where the name is a diminutive of Symon and Simeon.

In "Symmie and his Bruder," a satire in the vein of Peblis to the play, we have mention of "Bayth Sym and his bruder," and "Nowthir Syme nor his bruder." [2]

Moreover, "Sim is not always representative of Clan Moc-Shimidh as some think-it is a common English name as well." [2]

Early records of the name in Scotland include: "Sym Clerk [who] witnessed an instrument of resignation in 1446, John Sym de Banchry, recorded in 1503, Andrew Sym, vicar of Cumry (Comrie) in 1530 and William Sym [who] witnessed a precept of clare constat of 1548. William Sym in Nether Possill is recorded in 1596." [2]

At about this time, we also found records in England, specifically Thomas Symme, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. Christopher Sims, Berkshire appears in the Register of the University of Oxford in 1504; and Ellen Simms, of Warrington is listed in the Wills of Chester in 1593. [1]

Early History of the Syme family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Syme research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1162, 1503, 1530, 1596, 1755, 1831, 1793, 1794, 1753, 1809, 1753, 1787, 1791, 1793, 1800, 1774, 1845, 1808, 1795, 1861, 1799, 1870, 1799, 1843, 1889, 1859, 1867, 1866 and are included under the topic Early Syme History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Syme Spelling Variations

In the Middles Ages scribes spelled names by their sound. Often a name was written under a different spelling variation each time it was recorded. Syme has appeared as Simms, Symes, Sime, Simes, Sim, Sym, Syms, Syme and others.

Early Notables of the Syme family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was John Syme (1755-1831), nicknamed "Stamp-Office Johnny," a close friend of Robert Burns'. In the summers of 1793 and 1794, he joined Burns on his two short tours of Galloway. He and Alexander Cunningham were amongst the most active of the friends and admirers of Burns's works who raised funds for the poet's family. Together with Dr Willam Maxwell he arranged Burns's funeral. [3] Michael Symes (1753?-1809), was a British soldier and diplomatist, born about 1753, entered the army about 1787, and went to India in the following year with the newly raised...
Another 249 words (18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Syme Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Syme family to Ireland

Some of the Syme family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Syme migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Syme Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

New Zealand Syme migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Syme Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Alexander Syme, (b. 1833), aged 26, Scottish carpenter, from Lanark travelling from London aboard the ship "Robert Small" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 29th January 1860 [5]
  • Miss Jane Syme, (b. 1841), aged 23, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indian Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 24th March 1864 [6]
  • Mr. David Syme, (b. 1844), aged 20, British shepherd travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indian Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 24th March 1864 [6]
  • Catherine Syme, aged 33, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Resolute" in 1865
  • Helina Syme, aged 7, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Resolute" in 1865
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Syme (post 1700) +

  • David Syme (b. 1949), American pianist
  • Jennifer Maria Syme (1972-2001), American actress and production assistant
  • Marty Syme (1904-1953), American lyricist
  • John Syme (1795-1861), Scottish portrait-painter, nephew of Patrick Syme, born in Edinburgh
  • James Syme (1799-1870), pioneering Scottish surgeon, born in Edinburgh, second son of John Syme of Cartmore and Lochore in Fifeshire
  • Robert G. Syme, Scottish professional association footballer
  • David Syme (1827-1908), Scottish-Australian newspaper proprietor
  • Hugh Randall Syme GC, GM & Bar (1903-1965), Australian naval officer, recipient of the George Cross for his actions in defusing unexploded bombs and landmines
  • Ebenezer Syme (1825-1860), Scottish-born, Australian journalist, proprietor and manager of The Age Syme; he emigrated to Victoria in 1852
  • Roderick Syme (1900-1994), notable New Zealand agricultural instructor, mountaineer, conservationist and alpine sports administrator
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Syme Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fortuna et labore
Motto Translation: By fortune and labor.


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 18) Aboukir voyage to Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island. [These convicts appear to have all landed in Van Diemen's Land], Australia in 1851 with 280 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/aboukir/1851
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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