Sims Family Generations

The Sims family story is described by generation, starting with our "Brickwall"; the parents of Robert Sims, of Dover, in Kent, England.

Robert Sims is the first generation of which we have clear evdence. He died in Dover in 1789 and left a widow, Sarah (nee Baker).

Robert and Sarah had three children; James, Elizabeth and Robert. A James Sims married Jane Castleman and lived in Plumstead. We think this is the same James Sims, but proof is elusive. They had three boys;  Ebenezer William, Henry and James John.

Ebenezer William married Francis Warren and they moved to Van Dieman's Land, now Tasmania.

James John Sims married Elizabeth Chammings. The couple had seven children before he died prematuely at age 38. Elizabeth returned to Devon where she grew up.

James John and Elizabeth's oldest son was Ebenezer Edwin Sims. He married twice and had a total of eight children.

Their fifth child Montague Sydney Sims married Emma Lucy Cullen and they had four boys; Leonard, Donald, Jack and Sydney.

Jack had a son, Andrew and he is this site's editor.

Montague Sydney Sims

Montague Sydney Sims was born in Woolwich on May 17th, 1880. He was the son of Ebenezer Edwin and Mary Ann Sims, the fifth of eight children. As a youth, he was an active sportsman, playing Rugby for Blackheath. He was also an avid reader and an excellent chess player. He later became a lifetime member of the Kent County Cricket Club.

Monty Sims
Monty Sims - Taken at Chatham.


Training as a Marine Engineer

Monty took his training as a Marine Engineer. For several years he went to sea in that capacity. He told his sons tails of his travels all over the world.  Over one winter his ship was icebound at Murmansk for the entire Russian winter.

Fascination with Motors

Whether because of his training, or just as a hobby, Monty was clearly fascinated with motors. Living in the Hastings area at the time, he was in the centre of the very early motor sports world. Bexhill-on-Sea still proclaims itself the Birthplace of British Motor Racing. Racing, originally on the beach, began in 1902. It attracted all the major enthusiasts including Lord Northcliffe, the founder of the Daily Mail and sponsor of many of the early competitions and prizes. Monty, with his brilliant ability to tune engines met many of the early racers.

First in the Kingdom
Monty Sims Driving the First Motorbus in the Kingdom, in Hastings.

Many of these same enthusiasts went on to become early pioneers in aviation. Among those Monty worked with were the early aviators Alcock and Brown. At home, he kept a photograph of them on the mantlepiece signed by each of them "To Monty" along with letters of appreciation for his assistance.

Monty Sims sitting in a plane he built himself

Marriage to Emma Lucy Cullen

It was in the Hastings - Bexhill area that Monty met Emma Lucy Cullen. They were the same age.  They married on September 27th, 1905 at The Parish Church of St. Peter, Bexhill, Sussex. At the time, Monty was living at 62 Southwater Road, St. Leonard. Emma Lucy was still living with her parents at Churtings, Buckhurst Road, Bexhill.  The Rev. R. Buchanan-Dunlop officiated and many of the family were present. It was reputed to be the first motorized wedding in Hastings. The wedding photograph, unfortunately suffering from its age, still shows many identifiable members of the Cullen and Sims families.

Emma and Monty Sims Wedding
Emma Cullen and Monty Sims' Wedding Photograph.

Garage in Rochester

By 1908, the couple had moved to Rochester, on the Medway, in Kent. Monty, in partnership with another, ran a motor car repair business. The firm, Watson and Sims Ltd., was incorporated in November, 1912.  In 1916, with Monty away working for the war effort, the company went into receivership. Monty returned to business after the War, but soon after he left and started a similar garage in Southboro.

War Time Service

Due to his training, at the outset of the First World War, Monty joined the Vickers organization for their war effort. Before long, he was working for the firm in Barrrow in Furness working on defences against the new German submarines.  He is said to have been involved in the invention of a device, called the Otter, to deflect mines from ships.  One night, as he returned home by train to Rochester, he broke a leg when he got off, in the dark of the blackout, where there was no platform.  This left him rather lame for the rest of his life.

Four Boys

Emma and four boys
Emma Lucy Sims with sons Donald, Leonard, Sydney, and Jack circa 1925

Emma Lucy and Monty had four boys. Leonard, the oldest, was born on February 10th, 1909. Donald was born on September 26th, 1914. Jack was born on February 6th, 1916 and the youngest son, Sydney, followed on February 21st, 1918.

Move to Southboro

Late in 1918, just before the end of the war, the family moved to 11 Church Road, Southboro, Kent, located between Tunbridge and Tunbridge Wells. The house faced Southboro Common, with the Hand and Sceptre Hotel just across the road.

The family home at 11 Church Road, Southboro

Monty and the boys played cricket on the common. By 1928 they had moved to a second house in Southboro, at "Southview", Powder Mill Lane.


The Disasters of 1928 and 1929

The Sims Family at Leonard's Funeral in September, 1928

Two events changed the course of family life; one personal and the other financial. In 1928, after a long illness, Leonard passed away.  He had been the apple of his father's eye, and Monty was never the same after this loss.

A year later, the 1929 stock market crash (The Hatry Crash) wiped out the family's assets.  They had to sell the house, the garage business and the car and move into rented accommodation. Monty was out of work for a while and then took a job as a delivery driver. During hop season, he worked for two years in the hop fields as a manager.

Move to Hildenborough

In 1931 Monty was able to get a job as a garage manager in Hildenborough. The family moved into a house there and stayed for several years. He then went to work in Stanbridge, Buckinghamshire for a while, where son Jack married. After that, when Monty began to suffer from lung cancer, he had to give up his position in Stanbridge and the family moved back to Kent, to Sidcup.  The younger boys were enrolled in Judd School, Sidcup. By then, the war had started and Sidcup was being bombed.

Monty's Death

Monty Sims later in life

Monty died, at 60 years of age, on September 22nd, 1940, a few months after Dunkirk. At the time the family lived at 118 Main Road Sidcup, Kent and was working as an Engineer with the Air Ministry. The bombing and other aspects of the war made it difficult for some of the family to get back to Sidcup to be with him. His death certificate reveals that he died of lung cancer. In a simple will, he left everything to his wife. His estate, clearly diminished over his later years, amounted to £193 3/10.

Census Records


1881 Census - Monty, just born, is living with his parents Ebanezer and Mary Anne and five children at 6. Tavistock Place, Plumstead, Kent.
Ebanezer Sims Head Married 37 Clerk Foreman of Writers War Dept. (C S Off) Kent, Woolwich
Mary A Sims Wife Married 34 Kent, Woolwich
Emily C Sims Daughter Single 13 Scholar Kent, Welling
George T A Sims Son Single 10 Scholar Kent, Woolwich
Fred L M Sims Son Single 6 Scholar Kent, Plumstead
Amy A M Sims Daughter Single 3   Kent, Greenwich
Montague S Sims Son   0   Kent, Greenwich
Jessy Hussey Servant Single 17 General Servant (Domestic) Kent New Charlton
1891 Census - Monty, aged 10, is living with his entire family at 105 Herbert Road, Plumstead, Kent.
Ebanezer E Sims Head Married 47 Principal Foreman Royal Ordinance Factories Kent Woolwich
Mary Ann Sims Wife Married 43   Kent Woolwich
Emily C Sims Daughter Single 23   Kent East Wickham
George T Sims Son Single 20   Kent Woolwich
Fred L M Sims Son Single 16   Kent Plumstead
Amy A M Sims Daughter   13   Kent Greenwich
Montague S Sims Son   10   Kent Greenwich
Nellie M Sims Daughter   5   Kent Plumstead
Winifred M Sims Daughter   3   Kent Plumstead
Elanor Sams Servant   16   Kent Blackheath
1901 Census - Monty is living on his own 64 Brewer Street, Woolwich, Kent
Montagu S Sims Single 24 Marine Engineer London Greenwich
1911 Census - Monty and his wife Emma Lucy are living with their two year old son Leonard at 25 Ridley Road, Rochester, Kent.
Montague Sims Head     30 Kent Greenwich
Lucy Sims Wife     30 Kent Newington
Leonard Sims Son 2 Kent Rochester