Recorded as Sonnenschein, Sonnenstein, Sonschein, Zonenchein, Zonenshine (German), and Sunshine (English), this is a very unusual surname. In England it is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London since the middle of the 18th century, but surprisingly not before, nor is it recorded in any of the known dictionaries of surnames relating to English or British surnames. Although the registers do not indicate any foreign entry we suspect that it was a name which was probably associated with the Hanoverian Succession to the throne of England in 1715.There are three possible origins for the surname. It is certainly medieval at least in Germany, and may have been a nickname for a person with a sunny disposition from the word sunne meaning sun, and schin, shining rays, or it may be residential from a place called Sonnenscheyn or similar, or from a house or possibly an inn which had the sign of a sun. The German records include examples such as Michael von Sunnschein in 1395 which is clearly locational, and Friedrich Sonnenscheyn of Seblach in 1475. In England an early recording is that of John Sunshine whose daughter Elizabeth was christened at the church of St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, city of London, on July 24th 1748 .
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