What exactly is a notary, and where did this job come from?
The history of the notary public is a long and distinguished one. Believe it or not, this job has its origin in the civil institutions of ancient Rome. Public officials, called scribes, rose in rank from being mere recorders of facts and judicial proceedings and copiers and transcribers, to become a learned profession prominent in private and public affairs. Some of these were permanent officials attached to the Senate and courts of law, whose duties were to record public proceedings, transcribe state papers, supply magistrates with legal forms, and register the decrees and judgments of magistrates.
Interesting fact: In the middle ages, there was a person called the “Notary Of The Bedchamber” these were sometimes asked to witness the consummation of marriages involving royalty or members of the peerage. I am so glad this isn’t a notary’s role today, aren’t you?
In the French tradition, and in much of Latin America, notaries evolved to have responsibilities similar to attorneys. In the United States, except for Louisiana which still has a deep legacy of French law, notaries have primarily become an important part of the legal process. They are respected as impartial, and they are expected to validate four things:
Some famous notaries
Samuel Clemens – Mark Twain
John Calvin Coolidge Sr.: Father of John Calvin Coolidge Jr., the 30th President of the United States; administered the Oath of Office to his son
Salvador Dalí i Cusí: Father of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí
Jennifer Lopez – Jenny on the Blocksinger, actress, dancer, and producer
Dwight K. Schrute: Assistant to the Regional Manager, Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc.