This is an extraordinary surname. Recorded in an equally extraordinary number of spellings including Gildersleve, Gildersleeve, Gilderslieve, Gildersleaves, Gilderslees, Gildersleeue, Gilderslev, and others, it is English. Furthermore it was originally recorded only in the county of Norfolk. The name is almost certainly a metonymic for a maker or clothes with sleeves trimmed with gold braid, although both the famous etymologists Canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880, and Professor Reaney in 1959, describe it as a nickname for a wearer of such clothes.What is certain is that Norwich was for several centuries the centre of the textile industry, and was particularly associated with the famous Flemis weavers who settled there. They brought new styles with them in the 13th century, perhaps this name relates to these new styles. The name originates from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'gilden' meaning golden, and the first known recording is that of John Gylendsleve in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Norfolk, in the year 1273, whilst three centuries later John Gildensleeve was the rector of Little Cresingham, Norfolk, in 1588
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