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"]
The general use of the name for "innkeeper" (by 1803) is from Will Boniface, the innkeeper character in George Farquhar's popular comedy "The Beaux' Stratagem" (1707).
updated on October 20, 2022