The surname Semple appears localized in origin. It is believed to have come from the Strathclyde Britons, an ancient founding race of Gaelic-Celts in the north and lived in the Lancashire to River Clyde area. The name could possibly have arisen from the the words "St. Paul" as: one who came from or lived near that place, or "small", describing perhaps stature or a humble character.
There are several spellings of the name: Semple, Simple, Sample, Sempill, Sempell, Symple and Semphill. This often occurred, even between father and son. Sometimes the person could not write their own name so the officials and church clergy often wrote the name as it sounded. Even within documents, the name was spelled one way and signed another.