This most interesting and unusual surname has two possible derivations. Firstly, it may be of Old Scandinavian origin, from the Old Norse "slaegr", Middle English "sligh", skilful, clever, cunning, expert, and was most probably a nickname denoting someone who was cunning or crafty, with the Olde English suffix "mann", man, hence "slighman", a crafty man. Secondly, the surname may be of early medieval English origin, from the Middle English "sleze, sleye, slay(e)", an instrument used in weaving to beat up the weft, a weaver's reed or shuttle, and the suffix "mann", and may have been an occupational name for a maker or user of the instrument. Hence, the surname is a variant of a name deriving from either of these two sources. Other surnames from this source include Sleemmonds, Sliman, Slimming, Slimmon, Sleeman, Slyman, and Slemming. The surname first appears in the late 13th Century (see below), while Auicia Scleyman is recorded in 1327 in the Subsidy Rolls of Cornwall. One Thomas Sleman, of St. Hillary, aged 18 yrs., was one of the early settlers in St. Christopher's, the Barbadoes, having embarked from Plymouth in March 1633. John Slyman married Elnor Stenlake on January 20th 1553 at Modbury in Devonshire, while Anna Slimon, daughter of John and Ann Slimon was christened on April 24th 1703 at St. George's, Shillingford in Devonshire. 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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