This long-established and ancient surname is a metonymic occupational surname given to someone who covered roofs with slate, from either the Middle English "sclate, slate", from the Old French "esclate", a slate, or the Middle English "sclat, slatt", a slat, slater. This surname is a good example of that interesting group of job-descriptive surnames which originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname itself is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), while other early examples include Thomas le Sclatere, mentioned in documents in "Middle English Surnames of Occupation" in 1255; Saundr le Sclattur in the "Cartulary of Oseney Abbey" in 1278; and Thomas Slater, recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1297. Ann, daughter of John Slate, was christened on November 26th 1606, at St. James', Clerkenwell, London. John Slate was a convicted Monmouth rebel who was transported to the Barbadoes, being recorded there in 1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Slat, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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