This unusual and interesting name has two possible origins, the first of which is from a medieval nickname for a happy, cheerful and fortunate man. The derivation is from the Middle English "seely", meaning happy, fortunate from the Old English "saelig", from "sael", happiness, good fortune. The second possible origin for the modern surname is from an occupational name for a servant employed by someone called "Seal" or "Sealey", both medieval personal names from the word "sael", happy, as above. There are a great many variants of the modern surname, from Selman, Silman, Silmon and Sellman to Silliman, and Selliman. The name development has included Thomas Selman (1275, Worcestershire) and Henry Silmon (1327, Wiltshire). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailricius Seliman, which was dated 1169, in the Northamptonshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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