Monthly Archives: November 2019

Genealogy… Analyzing a Surname for Ethnic Determination


I like to uncover hidden Jewish ancestry. Here’s an example of a fun way to do that. A google search shows me that there are Jews with the surname Summeral. I googled, “Where did the surname Summerell originate?” It brought up some interesting sites. One source says that the name “Semerville” originated in France with a Walter Semerville who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066 when he made his historic invasion of England. And according to the Jewish Virtual Library, William the Conqueror brought Jews from Rouen to London in the late 11th century. Another site claims it means Summerhill and that it is Anglo-Sagon.

On an ancestry message board, I found someone asking, “Could Simrell be a variation of Summerell?” I googled “Jewish Simerall” and came upon a blog where it’s mentioned that “Simer” is a Jewish woman’s name. So I went to and searched for “Simer.” There are quite a few that could be the original form of Summerell but one strikes me, Simoel, Rabbi. Simoel to Summerell? In May of 1489, Rabbi Simoel was the doctor to Spain’s Duke of Albuquerque. This date was just a few years before the Spanish Inquisition. The name Simoel might be a version of Samuel.

In 1680, a man named Thomas Sumerrell was born. He married Anne Cobb. The surname Cobb might be short for Jacob. The deceased movie star, Lee J. Cobb was Jewish and his birth name was Leo Jacoby. Were Thomas Sumerrell and Anne Cobb of Jewish descent? Perhaps.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry and Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:

Secret Genealogy II:

Secret Genealogy III: