ACTUARY, a word which, properly speaking, might mean any registrar of a public body, but which is generally used to signify the manager of a joint-stock company under a board of directors, particularly of an insurance company ; whence it has come to stand generally for a person skilled in the doctrine of life annuities and insurances, and who is in the habit of giving opinions upon cases of annuities, reversions, &c. Most of those called actuaries combine both the public and private part of the character.
An actuary combines with the duties of a secretary those of a scientific adviser to the board which gives him his office, in all matters involving calculation, on which it may be supposed that the mem bers of the board are not generally com petent to form opinions themselves.
The name has a legal character from its being recognised in the statute 59 Geo. III. c.128 (or the Friendly Societies' Act of 1819), which enacts that no jus tice of the peace shall allow of any tables, &c. to be adopted in any Friendly Society, unless the same shall have been approved by "two persons, at the least, known to be professional actuaries, or persons skilled in definition much too vague to be any sufficient guide. The Committee on Friendly Societies of 1825 reported that "petty schoolmasters or ac countants, whose opinion upon the pro bability of sickness and the duration of life is not to be depended upon," had been consulted under this title, and recom mended that the actuary-of the National Debt Office should be the only recognised authority for the purposes above men tioned ; in which recommendation the Committee of 1827 joined. In the 10 Geo. IV. c. 56, however, no alteration was made in the law on this point. By the Act of 1819, no Friendly Society can be dissolved, or any division of money made otherwise than in the ordinary course, without the certificate of two actuaries, that the interests of all the members have been consulted in the proposed dissolution or payment. The 4 & 5 Wm. IV. c. 40, which amends the above Act, provides that no distribu tion of the funds of any Friendly Society shall take place without a certificate from the actuary of one of the Life As surance Offices in London appointed by the Board.
The registrar of the Lower House of Convocation is called the actuary. Bishop Gibson says that he is an officer of the archbishop, the president of the convo cation, and cites as follows, from the fees established by Archbishop Whitgift (1583-1603) for the vicar-general's office: --" Feoda Actuario Domus inferioris Convocationis solvenda." (Gibson's Syno ds's Anglican, 1702.) The word Actuary is from the Roman actuarius," which was used in various senses ; but its earlier and more common meaning was " short-band writer." (Sue toning, Julius Cesar, 55.) The actuarii militise, under the later empire, were persons who kept the army accounts, and had the distribution of the soldiers' ra tions. (Facciolati, Lex. art. Actuarius.) In Germany an Actuary (Actuar) that public officer who is attached to a public functionary, and, in a narrower sense, to ajudicial functionary, and is qualified and sworn to note down official proceedings, and to draw up registra tions and protocols, and to collect and keep the records of official acts. Acts
which are approved in legal form, that is to say, after being first read over, and when the law requires it, as the Prussian law does, are signed by the parties, and are drawn up, collected, and kept by the actuary, and also the copies which are compared by him and certified as true, have public credit, or are taken as complete evidence. Both such acts and their contents are considered as genuine and true until they are proved to be false, so far as the actuary, pursuant to his authority, intends to be security for their genuineness and truth, according to the nature of the case. For example, the actuary intends that a deposition taken down in writing by him, or a me morial accepted and kept by him, is truly and completely the deposition or me morial of the party. Their truth in other respects he does not vouch for. Accord ing to the various functionaries or offices to which they are attached, actuaries have various names. When attached to ecclesiastical courts, and frequently when attached to the ordinary courts of justice, they are called Protonotarii (prothonotariea); to the higher provincial colleges, Secretaries ; to public func tionaries, official actuaries or official clerks (Amstactuarien, Amtschreiber). The secondary actuaries, who are subor• dinate to the first actuary, are often called registrars or judicial notaries. Every actuary must be an independent func tionary, sufficiently qualified for his diffi cult office, and must have undergone an examination and be bound by oath, and as such he is responsible for the accuracy and sufficient completeness of his notes and acts. As a judicial person he can be objected to as an actuary on the ground of incapacity or of partiality, especially on the ground of near relation ship to the judge. According to the general rule of law, it is necessary to the validity of a judicial protocol that both the judge should be present and a duly qualified actuary. The judge and the actuary mutually control one another. The actuary, in order that he may main tain his independence and be really responsible, is not bound to follow the dictation of the judge, except when the judge is merely uttering his own words, or putting his own questions, or giving his own proper orders. It would be an impediment to the careful consideration required of a judge, and to the indepen dent action and mutual control exercised by the judge and actuary over each other, if the judge himself should have to per form the part of actuary ; and the inde pendent, careful, and exact discharge of the actuary's duty would be impeded, if he did not draw up the protocol as far as possible in the words of the party, and according to his own understanding of them, subject indeed to the control of the judge, and upon his own responsibility. When these forms are not duly observed, it is a sufficient ground for annulling the process and the protocol. (Staais Lexicon, Rotteck and Welcker, art. by W.)