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An early history of the notary public profession.

In the early days of the Roman Republic there were people who drew important documents as their means of employment or business, as well as doing other writing for whoever might employ them. Their number and importance increased with the growth of the wealth and power of the Roman Empire, under various titles such as scriba, cursor, tabularius, tabellio, exceptor, actuaries, and notarius, according to the time in which they lived and the duties which they performed. In the latter days of the Roman Empire, they had become somewhat subject to legal regulation. Some of their acts had been accorded such a degree of authenticity as to be specially designated as public instruments themselves, and were required to be deposited in public archives.

These quasi officials, and the legalities concerning them, spread to some degree into the various provinces of Rome, including what is now known as France, Spain, and England.

Early notaries were well known functionaries in the territories of Charlemagne, who invested their acts with public authority and provided for their appointment by his deputies in every locality. It was provided that each bishop, abbot, and count should have a notary. The early notaries acted as conveyancers in many cases. In old England, even before the Norman conquest, it is shown by the fact that a grant of lands and manors was made by King Edward the Confessor, to the Abbot of Westminster by a charter written and attested to by a notary public.

In England, notaries have always considered themselves authorized to administer oaths. This power is now allowed to them by statute. Notaries may protest foreign bills of exchange. They may offer their certificate of the presentment, demand, and dishonor of such bills. Their protest thereof on account of such dishonor, is itself proof of these matters. The law in the United States is similar, and is often so declared by the statutes of the various states and other jurisdictions. Protests are an antiquated notary act that was common in earlier times.

800Now, in the United States, notaries are commonly used for oaths, affidavits, real estate documents, and much more. Each state has a completely different procedure for becoming a notary, and notary laws differ across state lines, although the basic notary laws are generally along similar lines.