Notaries in History, Bob Dylan, and Termites

Notaries in History, Bob Dylan, and Termites: – A few random titbits and ramblings from Sunny Yorkshire.

A Bit of background: – The profession of Notary in England predates that of solicitors.

The earliest Notaries in England were appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury under licence granted by the Pope in Rome in the year 1279.

Obviously, they were appointees of the Catholic Church.

This was not a safe appointment in the early 16th century, by the time that King Henry VIII was excommunicated from that Church [and remember, during his reign some 70,000 people were executed].

The regulator of Notaries now is the Faculty Office, which is itself the creature of Statute – the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533. Henry VIII in action.

Here is a link to the text of it, still quite modern in its language [well until you click on the links. For example
Guardian of the Spiritualties may act during Vacancy of See.
[X1PROVYD] also and be it enacted by auctoritie aforseid that yf it happen the See of the Archbishoppriche of Canurbury to be voyde, that then all suche [X2manner of licences] dispensacions faculties instruments rescriptes and other wrytynges which may be graunted by vertue and auctoritie of this acte shall during the vacacion of the same See be hadd done and graunted under the name and seale of the gardiane of the [X3spiritualities] of the seid Archebisshoprich for the tyme being accordyng to the tenour and fourme of this acte, and shalbe of lyke force value and effecte as yf they had byn graunted under the name and seale of the Archebishoppe for the tyme being. ]

The gist seems to be that the authority formerly held by the Church in Rome – The Catholic Church, led by the Pope – is thereby vested in the Crown. Viz, in 1533, King Henry VIII.

Notaries are not mentioned specifically, but being an ecclesiastical appointment, the profession became the licensee of the new Church of England.

Accordingly since the year 1533 or shortly afterwards we Notaries have been regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. [The new, “Church of England”, Archbishop, not the thirteenth century Catholic one.]

Even sixty years earlier in the reign of [Henry’s Great Uncle] Henry VI, it was not the safest thing to be a Notary if the Bard is to be believed.

From Henry VI part 2 : – Jack Cade and his gang of rabble rousers

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

They do seem to share a quite modern aversion to the habits of Notaries to reduce agreements to writing and then keep records. As Cade says

“Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o’er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, ’tis the bee’s wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since”

Then as now in some quarters, there was a clear undercurrent of mistrust of education and resentment of the “poshness” of people who work in offices.

[Bob Dylan shows the converse, in Motorpyscho Nightmare “Well, by the dirt beneath my nails I guess he knew I wouldn’t lie”]

For the Clerk of Chatham [“he can write and read …. “ “ Oh Monstrous”] it was a death penalty to be educated.

Let me alone. Dost thou use to write thy name? or
hast thou a mark to thyself, like an honest
plain-dealing man?
Sir, I thank God, I have been so well brought up
that I can write my name.
He hath confessed: away with him! he’s a villain
and a traitor.
Away with him, I say! hang him with his pen and
ink-horn about his neck.

And Cade is clearly a Notary Public. The reference to his ink horn defines him [Nigel Ready, Brooke’s Notary]

As the modern texts confirm, an inkhorn and pen-case attached to a silken cord suspended from his girdle formed the distinguishing badge of the medieval notary.

A well-equipped English notary needs a pen, a seal, a ribbon or tape, wafers and a register. “He may if he so wish robe and equip himself with an inkhorn and pen-case suspended from his girdle, but this accoutrement ceased in late mediaeval times.”

Boohoo, still at least we’ve still got our girdles. [Oh, just me then.]

And termites?

Notaries will always seek to incorporate “best practice” from wherever in the World it is defined.

We already have strict rules as to the preservation of our records, protocols and registers. Now we have specific guidance as to termite damage,

Here is a link to an Indian Blog reporting the strictures of the Indian Central Information Commission upon a Notary who pleaded an inability to produce Notarial records in consequence of their destruction by termites.

As the Commission has left her in no doubt, first, this should not have happened. And Second, that the Commission was not entirely convinced.

“While issuing a show cause to the notary concerned, CIC asked Department of Legal Affairs to provide list of Notary registers damaged by termite, list of those survived termite attack, partially damaged registers and to produce remains of registers damaged by termite before the commission”.

They clearly suspect, it’s that old “The dog ate my homework” trope, in a tropical climate.

Anyway, whenever you spot a lawyer, wearing a girdle, from which is suspended by silken thread a pen-case and inkhorn, and spraying his paper records with DDT to kill all the termites, please go up to him, and say confidently, “You are a Notary and I claim my five pounds”

Here is a song from Bob – Song to Woody

As always, for accurate and termite-free Notarial acts and records, please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)