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How Did Notary Publics Come into Existence?

The modern notary profession first emerged when people needed specialists to take charge of significant daily transactions and agreements. Due to this, many historians now have the legal records they need to piece together and preserve historical information.

Notary laws differ today from state to state. But generally, the purpose is still to prevent fraud. Weddings, certificates, real estate deeds, affidavits, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, bills of sale, and other official transactional papers typically require the services of a notary. 

A new development in the area of notary services is now mobile notary, where the notary travels to meet the clients or signatories. Rainbow Notary and Nuptials offer Notary Florida services, including mobile notary anywhere in Florida. It is important to legalize your necessary documents, and a notary is essential for that. If you need notary services, contact us today!

If you’re curious how notary publics came to be, here is a brief history of the profession and its regulations.

Egyptian Bartering System

Ancient Egypt utilized a sophisticated bartering system as it was a cashless society. First, the barter compared the worth of the products to a third commodity. Then, a scribe (or sesh) recorded the commodity’s weight and verified the transaction to complete the agreement. These scribes may also go by the names kabbaneh, public weighers, or notaries. The government employed them to put up their scales in markets or other public locations and serve as objective observers of commerce. The practice of weighing things and certifying the results for both parties to agree on dates back to 2750 B.C. It is still practiced today among the Baladi Egyptians.

These people were in the royal court. They weren’t required to work in manual labor, pay taxes, or serve in the military. Since most people were illiterate, these scribes performed oral rituals as part of their official duties, much like the notarial ceremonies of today. Ancient letters often end with the words “May you be well when you hear this,” indicating the scribes read the texts aloud.

Wedding officiant and couple at nuptial ceremony

Ancient seals were created using cartouches or shen, which means to encircle. The object was frequently worn as an amulet to ward off bad luck, provide good fortune, and indicate the wearer’s status. Cartouches are more regularly discovered on pharaohs’ graves.

Rome's "First Notary"

The first notary, according to many academics, was Marcus Tullius Tiro. Similar to Ancient Egypt, the ordinary populace had low literacy rates. Tiro is credited with creating the notae tironinae shorthand writing system, which was used to capture essential speeches delivered by renowned orator Marcus Tuillius Cicero. In addition, those who kept track of court events began using the shorthand system. These shorthand note-takers eventually received the title Notarius, the origin of the word notary.

A different class of government employees known as tabularius offered functions similar to those of the current notary in the United States. The tabularius established a shop in the marketplace, much like their Egyptian counterparts, and helped record financial transactions or other commitments.

In the end, the professions played a crucial part in the formal documentation of private legal affairs, such as deeds, wills, and property transfers.

Different Notary Systems for Different Classes

Some of the traditions and laws of the Roman Empire survived the eventual collapse. One such practice was the notary public’s function. Around 800 A.D., notaries were appointed officially by the Emperor, the Pope, or another authority with specific privileges. The fundamental responsibility of the notary was to provide legal documents that would be accepted internationally on behalf of all counts, abbots, and bishops. Even though notaries worked for ecclesiastical authorities, their tasks were primarily secular.

These chosen representatives focused on maintaining and authenticating records, much like modern notaries.

The standards and obligations were defined based on Roman law during the Middle Ages and expanded to northern Europe. Now, a few of those standard legal requirements are as follows:

    • A list of the parties
    • having their signatures verified
    • Getting the agreement acknowledged and understood
    • placing a government seal there
Antique quill on a Last Will and Testament document

Around the 13th or 14th century, the profession emerged in England, mainly following Norman feudal law, which was uninfluenced by Roman law. It is conventional to refer to these two legal systems as civil and common law, respectively.

The early notaries of England, like those of Italy, were initially chosen by and regarded as members of the clergy, where they adhered to the practices of Roman civil law. Eventually, a different class of secular or general notaries started assisting common law-based business transactions and international trade.

But unlike the civil law notary, the English notary never gained the same fundamental status inside the common law system. The notary is a legal profession that creates wills, contracts, and deeds under civil law.

Notary in Colonial America

English common law significantly influenced the development of many American laws. Except for the New Netherland, which included portions of present-day New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, the American notarial system was a continuation of the largely uncontrolled seventeenth-century English practice. The documents from New Netherland provide insight into the Roman law-based Dutch notarial practices of the time. 

A nominated official with a high moral character was necessary to sign and seal documents once each colony started engaging in trade to ensure the documents’ legitimacy.

In 1639, Thomas Fugill became the first colonist in America to use the title “notary public.” He and four other men were chosen by the General Court of the Province in New Haven, Connecticut, to perform the functions of notaries in the Roman and Ecclesiastical traditions by “assisting the magistrate in all courts called by him.”

Ironically, the Church removed him from his post and condemned him after learning that he had improperly given himself more land than was necessary.

While Massachusetts appointed the first general or common-law notary in 1644, Connecticut was the first colony to nominate a notary formally.

Lawyer signing document with gavel and scales of justice.

Modern-day Notaries

The foundation of an economically stable society is proper record keeping. The governor of the state a notary is located in today appoints them. Like ancient notaries, contemporary notaries ensure that the papers they notarize are true copies of the originals.

The fundamental idea of safeguarding and establishing the veracity of recorded documents remains true, even though the precise rules and procedures governing notaries may differ slightly from one state to the next or from one nation to another.

The traditional processes of confirming signers’ identities, seeing their signature, getting their vocal acceptance, and applying a seal are unaffected by new techniques like remote internet notarization, which are growing in popularity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Are Documents That Can Be Notarized?

Power of Attorney, medical records, signed declarations, affidavits, deeds, wills, and trusts are among the papers that frequently need to be notarized.

How Do You Get a Notarized Letter?

For a notary to notarize your document, follow these easy steps:

  • Be aware of the type of notarization you require.
  • Verify the document’s completion.
  • Bring a valid form of identification.
  • Make sure the name on your ID and the term on the paper are the same.
  • Have all signers present when the document is notarized.
  • Be prepared to sign and be aware. 

What Is The Purpose of a Notary?

Document authentication is a notary public’s primary duty. A notary public lends a document the weight of proof when he attests to its proper execution and delivery and does so with his hand and seal.

The Most Convenient Notary Services in Florida

Rainbow Notary And Nuptials was founded in 2018 and has since expanded to include more than a dozen Notaries who can be reached throughout Florida. Although you might be on the other end of the country, we have notaries that can notarize documents remotely. Let  Rainbow Notary and Nuptials satisfy your Notary Florida requirements.

Need Your Documents Notarized?
Contact Rainbow Notary and Nuptials
at (904) 333-7311

Rainbow Notary and Nuptials

491 West Forsyth Street, Suite 2, Jacksonville, FL 32202

(904) 333-7311

1 thought on “How Did Notary Publics Come into Existence?”

  1. My brother is looking into becoming a notary because he thinks it could be a handy side gig to earn some extra cash, and he’s heard it’s a relatively straightforward certification process. Plus, it’s a skill that could come in handy for his friends and family who might need documents notarized from time to time. I think he’d love to discuss further what you said about how the goal of notary laws, which vary from state to state today, is still to deter fraud.

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