NOTARY PUBLIC (ante), an officer iutroduced from the civil law, and known in ancient Rome as tabellio forensic; in England, appointed by the archbishop of Canter bury. In this country, the duties of a notary vary in the different states, being a matter of statutory regulation. But in general his duties are to protect bills of exchange, to take oaths and :tlirmations, to attest legal instruments, and to certify to documents. Notaries in England have always exercised the right of administering oaths, and that right has been confirmed by the statute, 5 and 6 Will. IV. In this country, the right can be exercised only where express statutory authorization is given, unless the oath adminis tered is to be used in proceedings in the U. S. courts, or courts outside of the state. The act of Congress, Sept. 16, 1850, gave notaries equal authority with justices of the peace to administer oaths and take acknowledgments. A notary is liable for damages result ing from negligence in the discharge of his duties. He cannot as a rule delegate his
notarial authority to another person. But a protest of a foreign bill of exchange by a notary's clerk, if such delegation be shown to be a commercial custom in the place fixed for the payment of the bill is valid. Where a notary is employed by an agent, and is guilty of negligence, the question arises whether the principal has a remedy against the agent, or against the notary: thus where an agent entrusted with the collection of a bill of exchange has it protested by a, notary, whose negligence discharges the drawer and indorsers. Some courts. hold that the principal may recover against the notary only when the latter's act is purely notarial, i.e. one that can be performed only by a notary; other courts hold that the remedy of the principal is against the notary only, whether the act be notarial or not.