Medieval Writing
Notarial Documents (2)
notary's mark In England, notaries were not much in evidence until the 13th century, when they were largely concerned with church or papal business. At the end of the 13th century, the church in England gained the right to appoint notaries for this purpose. Notarial documents had legal validity across national or jurisdictional boundaries, as did the rule of the church.
Notary's mark from an English ecclesiastical document of 1281, from the private collection of Rob Schäfer. (Photograph © Rob Schäfer)
The above example is from an appeal by the prior of Holy Trinity, York to the Holy See on a matter of church jurisdiction regarding the appointment of a parish priest.
Secular matters such as property transfers, leases, marriage agreements or wills tended to be recorded, in England, through the medium of private charters or indentures, validated through the recording of witnesses and the use of the seals of the interested parties. In France and Germany, such matters could also be dealt with through notarial documents.
notary's mark
notary's mark
Notary's marks from documents in the private collection of Rob Schäfer. Top left, from a document of 1370, top right from 1466, bottom left from an inspeximus of a will of 1474 (document no longer extant), and bottom right from a document of 1485. (All photographs © Rob Schäfer)
notary's mark
notary's mark
The above documents bear no seals, as the notary's mark, and the accompanying declaration written beside it, serves to validate the document. The mark of each notary was supposedly unique, so they can be quite elaborate designs. I don't know whether anyone has ever carried out a detailed study of these emblems, but it would undoubtedly be an interesting exercise.
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