Symes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the name Symes are in the Boernician clans of ancient Scotland. It is derived from the Medieval given name Sim which was derived from Simon, but denoted son of Simon. [1]

Early Origins of the Symes family

The surname Symes 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 Symes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Symes 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 Symes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Symes Spelling Variations

Spelling variations occur frequently in Scottish names that date from the medieval era. They result from a general lack of grammatical rules and the tendency to spell names according to sound. Symes has been spelled Simms, Symes, Sime, Simes, Sim, Sym, Syms, Syme and others.

Early Notables of the Symes 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 Symes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Symes family to Ireland

Some of the Symes 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.


United States Symes migration to the United States +

In the 20th century, the ancestors of many of those Boernician-Scottish people still populate North America. They distributed themselves on either side of the border at the time of the War of Independence. United Empire Loyalists went north to Canada and those who wanted a new nation stayed south. Both groups went on to found great nations. Some of the first North American settlers with Symes name or one of its variants:

Symes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Margrett Symes, who landed in Virginia in 1625 [4]
  • Alexander Symes, aged 19, British settler who landed in Virginia in 1635 aboard the ship "Abraham" [4]
  • Benjamin Symes, aged 42, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • William Symes, who arrived in Virginia in 1658 [4]
  • Ann Symes, who arrived in Maryland in 1664 [4]
Symes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Symes, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [4]
  • Lancaster Symes, who arrived in New York, NY in 1716 [4]
  • John Symes, who landed in New England in 1718 [4]
  • George Symes, aged 55, who arrived in Georgia in 1732 [4]
  • George Symes, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1733 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Symes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Symes, who landed in America in 1806 [4]
  • John Symes, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1860 [4]

Canada Symes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Symes Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Caleb Symes U.E. who settled in Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 member of the Cape Ann Association [5]

Australia Symes migration to Australia +

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

Symes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Symes, (b. 1811), aged 20, English farm labourer who was convicted in Dorset, England for 7 years for machine breaking, transported aboard the "Eleanor" on 26th June 1831, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Mark Symes, (b. 1812), aged 20 who was convicted in Somerset, England for life, transported aboard the "Circassian" on 4th November 1832, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Thomas Dummett Symes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1839 [8]
  • Harriet Symes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1839 [8]
  • Henry Symes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1839 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Symes 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:

Symes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Symes, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Alice Symes, aged 19, a nurse, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878
  • Mr. Frederick Symes, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "May Queen" arriving in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand on 16th December 1881 [9]

West Indies Symes migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Symes Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. John Symes, (b. 1617), aged 17, British settler travelling from London, UK arriving in St Christopher (St. Kitts) on 5th January 1634 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Symes (post 1700) +

  • James Miller Symes (1897-1976), American railroad executive
  • George Gifford Symes (1840-1893), American politician, U.S. Representative from Colorado
  • Marty Symes (1904-1953), American lyricist, best known for his "There Is No Greater Love" (1936)
  • Patrick Symes (1774-1845), Scottish flower-painter, born in Edinburgh
  • John Symes (1755-1831), Scottish writer, born in Edinburgh, son of a writer to the signet who owned property in East Galloway, a close friend of Robbie Burns
  • Jean Symes (b. 1986), South African-born Scottish left-handed batsman
  • Colonel Michael Symes (1753-1809), British soldier and diplomatist
  • Bob Symes (1924-2015), stage name of Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff, Austrian-born, British TV personality, best known for his appearance on the show Tomorrow's World
  • Derval Symes (b. 1964), Irish abstract artist
  • Walter Symes (1852-1914), New Zealand Liberal Party Member of Parliament
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Reginald C Symes (b. 1920), English Wireman serving for the Royal Navy from Sandgate, Kent, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [12]
Senghenydd colliery
  • Mr. Robert John Symes (b. 1892), Welsh coal miner from Senghenydd, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died


The Symes 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. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th February 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eleanor
  7. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 8th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/circassian)
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE REGENT 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839PrinceRegent.htm
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  11. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  12. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm


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