Recorded as Scheinfeld, Schoenfeld, Schoenveld, Schonfeld, Schonveld, Schonfelder, the Anglicised Schonfield, and many other spellings, this is a German locational surname of great antiquity. The name derives from the pre 7th century Old High German "schon" meaning beautiful, and at first this was a baptismal name of endearment for a young child. Later it was used as a descriptive nickname for a refined or educated person, and in the spellings of Schon, Schone, Schoner and Schonemann, it became a surname in its own right. However there was a parallel development of locational names which derived from places so-called. The German people seem to have always appreciated the beauty of the countryside, and they were happy to call places Schonberg, Schonfeld, or Schonwald, as the mood took them. These place names which became surnames were often referred to as "romance" surnames, and in the 18th century there was a great increase in such spellings. This was partly because many people of Middle Eastern origins settled in Germany at this time, and were encouraged y the government, to adopt Germanic surnames. The earliest examples of the surname recording taken from the authentic charters and registers of the period, are those of Hartdrait Schenvelder in 1344 and Hartrad Schennenvalder, in 1348, both recordings being from the town of Ockenheim, Germany, and they probably refer to the same person. These recordings were taken during the reign of Emperor Louis 1V of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1314 - 1347.
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