Notary Public Service » FAQ for Notarial Services » What is the history of Notaries?

Call us on 02 4940 4602

What is the history of Notaries?

The profession of Notary has been around since Ancient Rome, when public officials known as ‘notarius’ were employed by the courts to write up important documents such as deeds and titles. Initially, the documents that these official scribes produced were verified with the seal of the courts, but over time notaries were granted their own official seals.

Rome fell in the 5th century AD, but the Pope continued to appoint notaries all over Europe who were responsible for the writing of the most important legal documentation. It wasn’t until the late 13th century that independent notarial bodies began to be established in countries like England. Here, Pope Nicholas III granted the Archbishop of Canterbury the power to appoint three notaries a year. 

It was around the 17th century when worldwide trade routes were increasing the amount of business done overseas that the role of notaries started to become particularly focused on foreign affairs. This laid the foundations for the role to evolve into what it has become today, with notaries now responsible for authenticating documents intended for overseas use.

In New South Wales, notaries are no longer appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. There are 256 registered notaries in Australia, with 127 of them based in NSW.