The ancient town of Sleaford in Lincolnshire is the origin of this English locational surname. It was common practise in the medieval times to name people after the place from whence they derived. Robin Hood for instance was more properly called 'Robin de Lockesley', although in his case 'Lockesley' seems to have been as much a legend as Robin himself. What is known is that the further a person travelled from the former home, the more distorted became the name spelling. In fact although 'Sleaford' is found as a surname, it is very rare, the usual spelling being Sleford, Slyford, Sleeford, or Slafford. Other rare forms include Slayford, this spelling being originally apparently specific to Warwickshire. It maybe that the earliest recording in this spelling was Jane Slayford, who married Joseph Hart at St Martins Church, Birmingham, on September 9th 1793. Early examples of the name development include Gartred Sleford who married John Legge at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney on July 5th 1582, and Margrett Slafford, christened at Gislingham, Suffolk on April 13th 1624. The name translates as 'one who dwells by a ford on the slow running river' from the Olde English 'Sliowe-forda' of the pre 7th century. A coat of Arms was granted in Lincoln, having the blazon of a silver field, charged with a red chevron between three green trefoils, and the crest of a mermaid. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cessely Slefford, which was dated November 4th 1550, married at St Michaels Bassinshaw, London, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as 'The boy king' 1547 - 1554. 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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