This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in church registers of England and Ireland from the mid 16th Century under the variant spellings Slayny, Slany, Slainey, Sleany, Sliney, Sleaney, Sleeny, Sleney etc., has two distinct possible origins both Irish. Firstly, Slaney may have originated as a rare Irish topographical name from residence in the valley of the river Slaney which flows into the sea at Wexford Harbour. This river is named from the Gallic "Slaine", meaning wholeness or soundness, probably with reference to the healing qualities ascribed to the water by the ancient Druids. Slaney may also be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic patronymic Mac Sleimhne. The prefix "mac" means "son of", plus the personal byname Sleimhne, "smooth" or "sleek". This patronymic was assumed by the Norman family of FitzStephen who resided in County Cork. Church recordings include one Elizabeth, daughter of William Sleeny, who was christened on November 3rd 1654 at St. James, Clerkenwell, Margarett Sleney who married William Burbera on April 11th 1669 also at St. James, Clerkenwell and Ploudon, son of Ploudon and Jane Sleney on October 12th 1748 at St. Lukes, Old Street, Finsbury. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peers Slayne, (marriage to Jane Maye), which was dated December 11th 1545, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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