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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Sleeper family come from? What is the English Sleeper family crest and coat of arms? When did the Sleeper family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Sleeper family history?

The Sleeper surname is thought to be a habitational name taken from any of the several places so named, such as Slape in Dorset or Sleap in Shropshire. The word "slape" comes from Middle English, and means a "slippery" or "miry" place."


Spelling variations of this family name include: Slape, Sleep, Sleap, Slape, Slepe, Sleip, Sleape, Sleapa, Sleeper and many more.

First found in Shropshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book, [1] indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the village and lands of Sleapa, held by William Pantulf from Earl Roger, who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sleeper research. Another 204 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1273 and 1276 are included under the topic Early Sleeper History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Sleeper Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sleeper Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Sleeper, who arrived in Hampton, NH in 1646

Sleeper Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Adam Sleeper, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1758

Sleeper Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • S.W. Sleeper, aged 20, who emigrated to the United States from Cartagena, in 1894
  • Henry Dike Sleeper, aged 30, who emigrated to the United States, in 1895
  • Jacob Sleeper, aged 29, who emigrated to the United States, in 1895
  • Elizabeth Sleeper, aged 35, who settled in America, in 1896
  • H. D. Sleeper, aged 24, who landed in America, in 1897

Sleeper Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Alden B. Sleeper, aged 45, who emigrated to the United States, in 1903
  • Jacob Sleeper, aged 33, who emigrated to America from Paris, in 1903
  • Jacko Sleeper, aged 34, who settled in America from Paris, in 1904
  • Jacob Sleeper, aged 29, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Harold Sleeper, who emigrated to the United States, in 1907


  • Martha Sleeper (1910-1983), American silent film comedienne of the 1920s
  • Josiah Sleeper (d. 1946), American businessman who founded Sleeper's College, Chester, Pennsylvania (1910)
  • Thomas M. Sleeper (b. 1956), American composer and conductor
  • Albert Edson Sleeper (1862-1934), American politician, the 29th Governor of Michigan, eponym of Albert E. Sleeper State Park
  • Jim Sleeper (b. 1947), American writer and lecturer in political science at Yale University
  • John Sherburne Sleeper (1794-1878), American sailor, ship master and novelist, 6th Mayor of Roxbury, Massachusetts
  • Henry Davis Sleeper (1878-1934), American antiquarian, collector, and interior decorator, recipient of the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor


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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  2. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  5. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  7. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...

The Sleeper Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sleeper Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 May 2012 at 10:21.

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