This curious surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name from residence by a marsh or miry place, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "slaep", mud, mire, marsh, or a locational name from any of the various places named with this element. These places include: Sleap, a hamlet, east of St. Albans, in Hertfordshire; either of two places in Shropshire called Sleap, the one near Wellington, and the other south west of Wem; and Slepe, a locality in the Poole rural district of Dorset.Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages; and locational names were originally given to local landowners, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. One Hugh de Slepe and a Richard de Slepe were recorded in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Shropshire. It is interesting to note that St. Ives in Huntingdonshire was originally recorded as "Slepa" in the Saxon Chartulary, dated 974, and as "Slepe" in the Domesday Book of 1086. In 1130 it appears as "St. Ivo de Slepe", the latter element being eventually lost. On June 28th 1562, Isabel, daughter of Edward Sleepe, was christened at St. Peter's Church, St. Alban's, Hertfordshire, and on June 15th 1685, Nathaniel, daughter of Francis Sleep, was christened at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Coc de Slepe, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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