History of Notaries

The office of Notary Public has its origin in Roman times. Notaries were originally scribes or copiers, but developed into a learned profession, respected for their knowledge of technical matters. Notaries were often attached to the court and prepared and engrossed deeds and other legal documents, which were then sealed under the seal of the court and thus rendered “public acts”. Eventually, notaries were granted the right to use their own official seals to give their acts “public” status. Throughout Europe, but not in England, it became a requirement that many documents, for matters such as the transfer of land or property on death, should be in this public form (i.e. verified and recorded by a notary) as a pre-condition for their validity.

In Ireland, in contrast, notaries were used primarily to verify and certify documents to enable them to be used abroad, in those countries where notarial certification was normally required for important transactions.

Since 1279, when the Pope delegated the power, or faculty, to appoint notaries to the Archbishop of Canterbury, all notaries in England have been appointed through his Court of Faculties. The President of the Court of Faculties is a judge of the High Court and is known as the Master of the Faculties. The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 expressly preserved the jurisdiction of the Court of Faculties over notaries and, in particular, the powers of the Master of the Faculties to make rules for the education and training of notaries.

Quick Contact

Let our team call you back

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.



What is the name of the other party? (If relevant)
Which country do you live in?
What is the background to your problem?