Notary Publics: The Unsung Heroes of Bureaucracy

Sariah Medina 3/28/2023 Ah, the notary public. The mere mention of the title evokes images of dusty offices, leather-bound books, and old men in spectacles. But have you ever wondered about the origins and history of the notary public? Well, buckle up my friends, because we're about to take a deep dive into the fascinating world of notarization. First things first, let's define what a notary public actually is. According to the National Notary Association, a notary public is "an official of integrity appointed by state government — typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents." Basically, a notary public is someone who verifies the identity of the signers and ensures that the documents are legally binding.

But where did this all start? The notary public has been around for thousands of years, with the first records of notaries dating back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used notaries to document transactions and ensure that contracts were legally binding. The Romans also had notaries, who were responsible for verifying the authenticity of wills and legal documents. In the middle ages, the Knights Templar established the key processes for the modern system of notary services, banking, loans, and mortgages that we have today. During that era, Knights carried with them documentation that proved their identity, created by a notary, often embossed with official wax seals. The importance of these documents was enhanced by a Papal declaration in 1139 that allowed the Knights Templar to pass freely through any border, pay no taxes, and be granted total freedom from every authority other than the Vatican. Without the documents created by a notary, anyone could impersonate a Knight, and avoid the laws that applied to ordinary citizens throughout the rest of Europe. Notaries were particularly important in Italy, where they were responsible for keeping records of all important legal and financial transactions. Notaries were considered to be some of the most trustworthy members of society, as they were required to have a deep knowledge of the law and be of good character.

As trade and commerce spread throughout Europe, so did the need for notaries. Notaries played a crucial role in the development of international trade, as they were responsible for verifying the authenticity of bills of exchange and other financial documents.

In the United States, the role of the notary public can be traced back to colonial times. In fact, the first notary public in the United States was appointed in 1639 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Notaries were particularly important in the early days of the United States, as they were responsible for certifying land deeds and other important documents.

As the United States grew and became more bureaucratic, the role of the notary public became even more important. Notaries were responsible for verifying the identities of voters, certifying the authenticity of legal documents, and performing a variety of other official acts.

But enough about history, let's talk about the present day. Notaries may not be the most glamorous of professions, but they play a crucial role in ensuring that our legal system runs smoothly. Think about it, without notaries, how could we be sure that contracts were legally binding? How could we be sure that our votes were being counted accurately? Notaries are the unsung heroes of bureaucracy, and we should all take a moment to appreciate their hard work.

So, the next time you need a document notarized, don't roll your eyes and groan about the inconvenience. Instead, take a moment to appreciate the history and tradition behind the notary public. And who knows, maybe one day you'll be the one in the spectacles, stamping documents and verifying identities. After all, someone has to do it.Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and notaries were now a staple of European society. They were called "scriveners" and were often educated men who could read and write, making them valuable assets to kings and nobles. In fact, some notaries were even elevated to the status of "royal notaries," meaning they worked exclusively for the monarch. Talk about a power move!

Notaries also began to gain recognition as legal experts. They were responsible for drafting legal documents, and their certification and signature on a document were considered proof of its authenticity. This was especially important during a time when literacy rates were low, and not everyone could read or write. Imagine trying to forge a document in a world where the majority of the population was illiterate. Good luck with that.

As the Renaissance rolled around, notaries became even more essential. This was a time of great cultural and intellectual awakening, and notaries played a critical role in preserving and disseminating knowledge. They were responsible for copying and certifying important documents, such as wills, land deeds, and contracts. Notaries also played a role in recording important historical events, such as coronations and battles.

Notaries continued to evolve throughout the centuries, adapting to the changing times. With the invention of the printing press, notaries were able to produce multiple copies of documents quickly and efficiently. And with the rise of global trade, notaries became indispensable in facilitating international commerce. They were responsible for verifying the authenticity of documents related to shipping and trade, and their signature on a document was often required before it could be recognized by foreign authorities.

Today, notaries are still an important part of our legal system. While they may no longer wear fancy robes and quill pens, they still play a critical role in authenticating documents and preventing fraud. Notaries are appointed by the state government and are responsible for verifying the identity of signers, certifying copies of documents, and administering oaths and affirmations.

But notaries are no longer just confined to dusty old offices. With the rise of mobile notaries, eNotary, and RON, notarization has become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Mobile notaries will come to you, whether you're at home, in the hospital, or at work. eNotary and RON allow for remote notarization, which means you can get your documents notarized without ever leaving your home.

So, there you have it. The origins and history of the notary public. From ancient Egypt to the modern-day, notaries have played an important role in authenticating documents and preserving legal and historical records. While the notary public may have changed over the centuries, one thing remains constant: their commitment to truth and authenticity. So, the next time you need a document notarized, take a moment to appreciate the long and storied history of the notary public. And if you happen to see a notary wearing a robe and carrying a quill pen, snap a photo and send it my way. I could use a good laugh.

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