masc. proper name. Saint Boniface (c. 675-754) was an Anglo-Saxon missionary to the continental Germanic peoples.
Contrary to the common opinion, this name derives not from Latin bonifacius 'well-doer,' but from bonifatius, from bonum 'good' and fatum 'fate.' The change to Bonifacius was due to pronunciation and from this was deduced a false etymology. Bonifatius is frequent on Latin inscriptions. Bonifacius is found only twice and these late (Thesaurus) ["Dictionary of English Surnames"]
Meaning "innkeeper" (by 1803) is from Will Boniface, character in George Farquhar's comedy "The Beaux' Stratagem" (1707).
updated on September 25, 2018