This interesting and unusual surname is a variant of Sly, which is of early medieval English origin, and is one of that large group of English and Continental surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of a nickname or byname. These were given in the first instance with reference to, for instance, a person's physical attributes, mental or moral characteristics, fancied similarity to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, occupation, and the unusual category of "phrase-names", which grew from the person's frequent use of a phrase, such as "Goodyear" and "Pardew", from the French "par Dieu". In this instance the nickname was given to someone considered to be sagacious, cunning, or crafty, derived from the Midland and Southern Middle English word "sligh, slegh", sly, clever, from the Old Norse "slaegr", with the Middle English "man", man. The modern surname can be found as Sleeman, Slemmonds, Slemming, Slimming, Sliming, Slimmon, Sliman, Slee and Slyman. Among the recordings in London is the marriage of Anthony Slee and Agnes Pawson on December 8th 1588 at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Sleman, which was dated 1277, in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, Yorkshire, 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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