Simms, (John) Gerald (1904–79), Indian civil servant and historian, was born 6 September 1904 in Combermore, Lifford, Co. Donegal, eldest of three sons and one daughter of John Francis Arthur Simms, crown solicitor for Co. Tyrone, and his German wife Ottilie Sophia, daughter of Otto Georg Christian Stange. Hence the baptismal names of John Gerald's youngest brother, George Otto Simms (qv), future Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh, and his sister, Dorothea Ottilie, who married into the aristocratic O'Briens of Inchiquin. His eldest brother, Henry James, became a prominent solicitor both in the Irish Free State and in Northern Ireland. John Gerald Simms, known as ‘Gerald’, received his earliest education at Prior School, Lifford, before attending St Edmund's School, Hindhead, Winchester College, and New College, Oxford, where he read classics, obtained a double first in Greats, and took his MA in 1933. He entered the Indian civil service in 1929, worked at Belgaum, Ahmednagar, Old Delhi, and Ahmedabad, and was created OBE (civil division) in January 1944 for his wartime work. He returned to Ireland in 1949 to follow an academic career at TCD. There he took an MA (1950) on the strength of his Oxford degree and studied the late seventeenth-century Williamite confiscations for his Ph.D., taken in 1952.
Simms joined the staff of TCD in September 1953 as assistant to T. W. Moody (qv) and in September 1964 became lecturer in history. He published distinguished works on late seventeenth-century Ireland: his leading titles were The Williamite confiscation in Ireland, 1690–1703 (1956), based on his doctorate, and Jacobite Ireland, 1685–91 (1969). He contributed frequent articles to journals such as the Irish Sword, published by the Military History Society of Ireland (MHSI) of which he became a member in 1953, a council member in 1956, and vice-president in 1964. He conducted field trips to battle sites and gave vivid presentations, especially of siege warfare. He was highly valued by the Society for his administrative and committee skills, a legacy of his service in India. Elected FTCD (1966) and appointed keeper (1974) of Marsh's Library in St Patrick's Close, adjacent to St Patrick's cathedral, Simms was also MRIA (1972). His obituarist and fellow MHSI council member Kevin Danaher (qv) remembered a man of great generosity in dispensing knowledge and advice to others. He also belonged to the Irish Historical Society, the Dublin Historical Society, the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and the Donegal Historical Society. Gerald Simms's last book, a biography entitled William Molyneux of Dublin remained unpublished when he died 9 April 1979 but was edited by P. H. Kelly and appeared in print in 1982.
He married (1930) Eileen Mary, eldest daughter of Hamilton Frederick Stuart Goold-Verschoyle, JP, of the Manor House, Dunkineely, Co. Donegal; they had one son – David John, a mathematician at TCD – and three daughters, Sybil Mary, Anna Lisa, and Margaret Esther. The family's south Dublin address was 3 Vergemount, Clonskeagh.