Simas Surname Research Project
For quite some time now, I've been interested in the surname SIMAS. Over the years, I've broadened my interest to the point that I've begun to think that someday, I'll publish a book on this name. That is many years off, but my research continues almost every day.
First of all, one might ask why I am interested in this name. The simple answer is that it is one of the many names I have in my collection of ancestors. Here is my ancestor with this name:
Domingos Vieira de Simas
Born in Santa Luzia, Pico on 21 Feb 1788 - Died in São Roque, Pico on 3 May 1860
He is the son of José Inácio de Simas and Rosa Jacinta, both natives of Santa Luzia, Pico.
They are descendants of Capitão Francisco de Simas de Oliveira & Apolônia Dias Pereira, natives of São Roque, Pico.
A short history of this name, from what I can gather and based on my own research thus far, is that the name originates, probably, from England. Historian James Guill thinks the name might have originally been SIMMS and that along with John de Sudeley, came to Portugal with the future Queen Felipa of England when she married the Portuguese King João I in 1387. And with Sudeley's descendant, Vasco Gil Sodré, when he went to the island of Graciosa to be the Capitão Donatário there and brought the first settlers, this "Simms" came along.* (see updated article mentioned below)
From these vague origins, we now come to someone more specific. Joana Telles de Simas and her brother Antonio Telles de Simas, natives of Graciosa, left that island, I estimate, in the early to mid-1500s. Joana went to the north part of Pico, to São Roque, and Antonio went to Horta, Faial.
Pico eventually became the source of all who carried through the generations this surname of SIMAS. What happened to Antonio Telles de Simas in Horta, I don't know. Who was the spouse of Joana Telles de Simas*, I don't know either, but suspect it is one of the descendants of São Roque's founder, Rodrigo Álvares de Mello. (see updated article mentioned below)
In any case, the first person I've found in the records with the name Simas is Antonio Dias de Simas, the Capitão-mor of São Roque. He is first listed as the padrinho (godfather) in 1605.
THE RESEARCH SO FAR
Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that all who are named Simas were either born on the island of Pico or have ancestors named Simas who were born there. Time and again, a Simas found on some other island can be traced back to Pico. And the ones on Pico can usually be traced back to São Roque. Therefore, I conclude that all with this name are related to these earliest people I've mentioned above named Simas.
Unfortunately, not all parish records are old enough to trace people back to the 1500s. For instance:
In Piedade, there is at least one Simas line that seemingly has hit a dead end in the early 1700s. I say "seemingly" because until my research is totally complete, I can't rule out that I will solve this puzzle.
In Calheta de Nesquim, there is a single source for the name Simas and it seems to be another dead end at about 1695.
Ribeiras, Pico has been successfully traced back to Bandeiras as the source of most named Simas there. There are a couple of other sources of people named Simas in Ribeiras and they come from Lajes.
In Lajes, there are several branches of Simas and most dead-end in the late 1600s. Some, though, originate in São João.
In São João, there is one Simas line which traces back to Lajes and another that comes from São Roque.
I'm still not finished tracing the ones in São Mateus, and any that might be in Criação Velha, Candelária, or Madalena.
Bandeiras people can be found in the older Santa Luzia & São Roque records so for all intents are the same as São Roque.
Santa Luzia's people named Simas all come from São Roque, as do my lines above.
Santo António's residents named Simas all come from São Roque, as do those from Prainha do Norte & Santo Amaro.
On other islands, I've found Simas people on Terceira and they came from Pico. Much more must be done there, so I can't be so sure of them all yet.
On Faial, there are many named Simas, but not nearly as many as on Pico. The ones I've found on Faial all come from Pico. Since my research there is only beginning (mostly in the Horta Matriz), I can't know whether there will be some dead end lines on Faial.
On Graciosa, the very few named Simas come from São Roque, but my research continues there.
I don't recall ever seeing Simas on Corvo.
I've been receiving surnames from people submitting their names to the Portuguese Genealogist Master List with Simas ancestors on the island of São Miguel. I'll have to check into them eventually to see where they're from. I suspect they'll be from Pico like the rest.* (see updated article mentioned below)
I've done very little research on Santa Maria island, so haven't run across any Simas there.
There are some named Simas in continental Portugal, too. I have practically no data about them, but it intrigues me to think some branch settled there from the Azores.
THE SIMAS BOOK PROJECT
As I progress, I begin to think about how I will compile the data into book form. One idea that I really like is to show as many pictures of the oldest people named SIMAS as I can get my hands on. While there is a likelihood of them all looking quite different, I would be fascinated at seeing them all. I'll never know what my own ancestors Simas looked like, but maybe this would give me some clue. For this reason, I would gratefully accept a copy of any old black & white photos of people named Simas which could then be used for this future book.
One feature will be a family tree showing all the people for each area. For instance, there are dozens of lines for Simas in São Roque. I would show the various groups of Simas, hopefully with pictures of people from each group being represented. I would do the same thing for Lajes,
I would have sections for each island and show the charts and descendants from each island.
There could be a section for anyone named Simas who became notable in some way. For instance, there is a man from Graciosa who was called the "Conde de Simas" and was very wealthy. Many of the municipal buildings in Santa Cruz, Graciosa were donated to the government by him. He's a São Roque descendant, too. In Sacramento, there is an exit from the Interstate 5 which is "Seamas Ave." and is named after a relative of mine with São Roque roots, a descendant of the above Domingos Vieira de Simas.
Once I begin to get more serious about completing this project, I'll start to contact anyone in the phone listings in the U.S., Canada, Portugal, etc. about it and earnestly begin the collection of photos and stories for the book.
The stories of the Simas families as told by anyone who can tell the story will be possibly the most interesting part of the book. I'll probably have some incentive to participate by offering a discount to people whose stories appear in the book. Of course, the people to provide photos will most likely want to provide stories, too.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you're interested in the Simas name, you might like to contact me about my project and introduce yourself. At this time, I'm only at the research stage and can't devote much time to much else, but I am certainly interested right now in knowing about any named Simas past or present. This is the part of my basic research. And I would happily add them to my database. The gathering of photos is extremely important, but I can't concentrate on that part until I've finished my research.
What you can do is:
Help me identify the people named Simas who are listed on the Social Security Death Index which I've made available for anyone interested.
Send me your information about your Simas people. I'm a professional researcher, so don't expect me to give you all the information I have on the name free, but I can certainly help you do research yourself, you can hire me to do it, or something in between.
The final book will be hardback and probably very large. Since it is years away, I can only guess that it would be below $100. Once I get to that stage, I'll make a more accurate guess.
If you're named Simas or have ancestors with that name, you're also likely a distant cousin of mine. Maybe we can never prove it, but we'll sure give it a try.
So "primos," I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Doug da Rocha Holmes
There is much I must update since I wrote the
above information a few years ago. The lastest status of my research into this name can be
found in the article about SIMAS listed with all my other articles at: