This unusual and interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Sleight may be an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and mental or moral characteristics. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Northern Middle English "sleght, slyght", smooth, sleek, slender, slim (apparently ultimately of Old Norse origin). The surname, with variant spellings Slight, Slaight, Sleicht, Sleit, and Sl(e)ite is particularly well recorded in Scotland, and in the English counties of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire from the late 16th Century. In 1507, one John Slycht witnessed a sasine in the barony of Bamff. The name may also be of locational origin from a place thus called in the Wimborne and Cranbourne rural district of Dorset, derived from the Old Norse "sletta" (Northern Middle English "sleight, sleet"), a level field or flat meadow. On March 16th 1574 Franncyes Sleight, an infant, was christened in Broughton by Brigg, Lincolnshire, and on May 6th 1581, John Sleight and Anne Jhonson were married in East Stoke, Nottinghamshire. A Coat of Arms granted to one Robert Sleght in the reign of Richard 11 (1377 - 1399), is a gold shield with a chevron between ten black crosses crosslet, six in chief and four in base. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Sleyght, which was dated 1431, in the "Records of Brokhole and Butterden", Scotland, during the reign of King James 1, King of Scotland, 1406 - 1437. 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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