The surname of SLEIGHT was an occupational name 'a maker of sleighs'. The name was derived from the Old Norman SLAEGR and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Walter Sleh, who was recorded in 1219 in County Essex. Thomas Sleh was recorded in 1221 in County Oxford, and Ralph Sly appears in 1273 in County Kent. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monastries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Other instances of the name mention John le Slegh, 1333, County Yorkshire, and John Slee of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Slay of County Lancashire was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1560. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.
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