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         SIMONTON -- ORIGIN OF NAME. (from the Simonton Genealogy of Glenn Simonton provided by Dave Ross-Email:Newtross@aol.com) In the Life of John Gibson Lockhart, (A. Lang) writes: “In the upper part of Lanarkshire, Scotland, is the parish of Symington, bounded on the east by the stripling Clyde, and rising in the south to the crest of the Tinto. The whole district lies high but, save for the Tinto, is not hilly. There is a warm wooded look, considering the height of the general elevation, and the parish is best known, perhaps, for Symington Railway Station on the Caledonian Railway.”

         The official name of Symington is “Villa Symonis Lockard”-- Symon’s Town -- whence Symington/Simonton. This name is understood to be derived from Simon Locard who, in the reign of Malcolm the Warden, was Lord of the Parish and founded the village and church. A man of Symon Locard’s importance must necessarily have had forefathers of no mean estate. The name Locard is probably derived from De Loch Ard, a territorial designation, and traceable to the house of Saint Lys and the companion of the Conqueror. Symon of Symington founded his parish church ca. 1153. He also held lands in Ayreshire and gave his name to Symontown in Kyle.

         There is no record of the date the first Symontown/Simonton went to Ireland, but that the move was made during the settlement of the Plantation of Ulster is certain, for among the allotments of land to the (Scots) who migrated to Ireland we find that, in the county of Tyrone, Precinct of Mountjoy, 1,000 acres of land, formerly allotted to David Kennedy, were sold before the year 1630 to one John Symonton, a Scotsman.

         Verne and Jackie Helmke (Email:helmke@juno.com) add that Symon Locard, the original Norman knight awarded the land by William the Conquerer, is thought to be buried under the Altar in the Church in Symington-Ayre, which is the oldest church in Scotland still in continuous service. Citing a number of sources, especially a book entitled “The Border or Riding Clans” by B. Homer Dixon, K.N.L. published originally by Joel Munsell’s Sons. Publishers, 1889 and reprinted in 1996 by Heritage Books Inc. Bowie Maryland, they further add that the Barony of Symon's Town fell out of the hands of the Locard family as the result of a mistake committed about 1295. At that time the Border Barons were required to give their allegiance to the King of England and sign the “Ragman’s Roll”. The Baron of Symons Town mistakenly signed the Roll and gave allegiance to the King of England. When Scotland subsequently defeated the English about 1300, King Robert Bruce awarded these conquered lands in 1306 to a hero of the Scottish liberation, Thomas Dicson (i.e. Dickson, Dixon).

         Thomas Dicson (1247- March 19, 1307) was probably the son of Dick de Keth (hence Dickson is a son of Dick),who himself was probably a son of the Great Marshal Hervey de Keth (i.e. Keith), who died in 1249.Thomas Dicson's mother (wife of Dick de Keth) was Margaret, daughter of William third Lord Douglas. Due perhaps to this family connection, it is therefore no surprise that Thomas Dicson's cousin ( Sir William Douglas) turned to him for help in recovering his castle of Sanquhar in 1295. Posing as the fuel man of the castle, upon entry Dickson cut away the horse that was hauling the fuel cart, effectively causing the cart to lodge between the castle gates. After slaying the gatekeeper, Dicson was immediately joined by 30 Scotsmen who had been concealed outside. The fort was retaken before the English defenders could even get out of bed. When the English returned with 3000 men to lay seige to the castle, Douglas had Dicson slip out through a secret passage on a fleet horse to warn Sir William Wallace. Wallace received the message and rescued the castle, with the English losing 500 men in the process. (based on the History of Henry the Minstrel- written 1381)

         Due to these heroic acts and others, Thomas Dicson was originally awarded the lands of Hazelside, and about ten years later was appointed Governor of Douglas Castle and awarded the barony of Symington.Though he was killed scarcely a year later, his descendants possessed the land, eventually taking on the name of Symonston. The Symonston’s reigned until 1622, when John Symonston apparently had financial difficulty and was forced to relinquish the title of the Barony and sell the lands. It is not known if this was the same John Symonton who was later found to be residing in Northern Ireland by 1630.

         The Simonton family and descendants of all other derivatives of that name, are privileged to be able to wear the tartan of either the Keith or Douglas clans and are considered a sept of the Douglas clan.



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