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A notary public is a public official who, depending on the state, has the power to acknowledge signatures, administer oaths and affirmations, take depositions and issue subpoenas in lawsuits. Notaries public are most commonly used to acknowledge signatures, especially on court papers such as affidavits.
Although notaries public are public officials, most are people who work in private industry and take a state-administered test to become notaries public. Often, one or more employees of large institutions which process much paperwork (such as banks, insurance companies and real estate brokers) and large law offices are notaries public. Also, many people who work at courthouses are notaries public.
A public officer commissioned under the authority of a state government to witness signatures on legal documents and to verify that the name shown by the signature is the actual name of the person signing the document. (2) Obs. A legal officer whose duty was to write, witness, care for, and otherwise take care of documents. He was a legal officer, and thus, everything he wrote/witnessed was considered legal evidence. They were certified by the King or the Pope.
An officer appointed by the executive, or other appointing power, under the laws of different states.
Their duties are generally prescribed by such laws. The most usual of which are, l. To attest deeds, agreements and other instruments, in order to give them authenticity. 2. To protest notes, bills of exchange and the like. 3. To certify copies of agreements and other instruments. By 1850 Act of Congress it is enacted, that in all cases in which, under the laws of the United States, oaths, affirmations or acknowledgments may now be taken or made before any justice or justices of the peace of any state or territory, such oaths, affirmations or acknowledgments may be hereafter also taken or made by or before any notary public duly appointed in any state or territory, aud, when certified under, the hand and official seal of such notary, shall have the name force and effect as if taken or made by or before such justice or justices of the peace. And all laws and parts of laws for punishing perjury or subornation of perjury committed in any such oaths or affirmations, when taken or made before any such justice of the peace, shall apply to any such offence committed in any oaths or affirmations which may be taken under this act before a notary public or commissioner as hereinafter named: Provided always that on any trial for either of these offences, the seal and signature of the notary shall not be deemed sufficient in themselves to establish the official character of such notary, but the same shall be shown by other and proper evidence. Notaries are of very ancient origin. They were well known among the Romans, exist in every state of Europe, particularly on the continent. Their acts have long been respected by the custom of merchants and by the courts of all nations.