Notaries Public (also called "notaries" or "public notaries") hold an ancient office which can trace its origins back to ancient Rome, when they were called "scribae", "tabellius" or "notarius". Notaries Public are easily the oldest continuing branch of the legal profession, and exist and are known all over the world. The office of a notary public is a public office. It has a long and distinguished history. The office has its origin in the civil institutions of ancient Rome. Public officials, called "scribae", that is to say, scribes, rose in rank from being mere copiers and transcribers to a learned profession prominent in private and public affairs. Some notary publics 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.
In current times, a notary public in almost all common law jurisdictions is a qualified lawyer (a notable exception being the US). Traditionally, notaries recorded matters of judicial importance as well as private transactions or events where an officially authenticated record or a document is drawn up with professional skill or knowledge required. Specifically, the functions of notaries include the attestation of documents and certification of their due execution, administering of oaths, witnessing affidavits and statutory declarations, certification of copy documents, noting and protesting of bills of exchange and the preparation of ships' protests.