Don’t believe everything you read!

You may have seen the Family Search stands that are often set up in shopping malls or at history meetings. They offer a complete run-down of your family name, it's origin and which Royal or Lord is your great ancestor. It can make interesting reading but if you compare the information given to you with the information on totally different surnames, they often say much of the same thing.

I would be cautious when looking at these. At best, they could offer a possible area (a town or country) to start your research. At worst, it can lead you up the garden path. The information below is from one such search which can only be described as 'a lot of waffle', the only piece of info I can agree on is the suggestion that it has something to do with ‘son of Simon’.

The French surname Simonett is one of a large set of variants which also includes Simone, Simondet. Simoneau and Simonard. All of these are patronymic in origin; that is, they belong to that large category of surnames derived from the first name of the father of an original bearer, which was one of the most common means of identification in the period prior to the establishment of a formal hereditary surnames system. Thus, all these variants are affectionate diminutives which literally signify “son of Simon”. The first name in turn is ultimately of Greek derivation, from the word “sama” to listen, and literally denotes “one to whom God has listened”. The popularity of the name and the consequent wide range of variants are due in large part to the tendency of parents in the medieval period to name their children after particular saints in the hope of invoking their patronage for their offspring. Simon was, of course, the apostle and first century martyr.

The preponderance of a specific variant is largely dependent upon dialect and region. Simoneau, for instance, is most numerous in the district of Poitou, an old province of France, now included in the departments of Vienne and Deux-Sevres.