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Notary records are any records that were recorded and verified by a civil notary (escribano) or an ecclesiastical notary (notario). Both of these notaries recorded a great variety of legal documents. These notaries functioned in the civil courts, criminal courts, government, ecclesiastic, and private areas. Thus there were Royal Scribes (Escribanos Reales) and recorders in all levels of government.
There were notaries who functioned to create for the people the documents needed for everyday business. Legislation has designated the notary with names such as Escribano de Cámara, Secretario de Cámara, and Notario Público. The notary provides the public with the legalization of documents such as authorizes wills and cares for the records he creates.
Books are generally organized chronologically under the notary’s name. Spanish law governed the maintenance of these notarial registers (protocolos or notarios) by establishing forms on which the information was to be entered. With the death of the notary, his documents may remain with the family, be passed on to his successor, be sent to a local notarial archive in the municipality, or be sent to the provincial, department, or national archives. The documents prepared by the ecclesiastical notary would be found in church diocesan archives. In doing research first check the local archives.
Notarial records dating from the early colonial days can contain the following documents:
- Wills (testamentsos)
- Contracts (contratos)
- Powers of attorney (poderes)
- Dowry (dotes)
- Inheritance arrangements, (sucesiones)
- Inventories of estates (inventorios)
- Sells and purchases (ventas y Compras)
- Taxes (albacease)
- Debts (deudas)
- Guardianship (tutelas)
Notarial records are more difficult to use than others records because of their varied nature, length, and complexity. But they offer detail and information not available in other sources and may provide important clues about an ancestor’s family, residence, and economic status.
The Archivo General de la Nación in Buenos Aires has the notary records from 1584–1756. These records are in chronological order as well as by notary. These documents come from the Colonial Government section under Escribanías Antiguas (Old Notary Offices). These notarial record books come from Trinidad also known as La Trinidad and La Santíssima Trinidad, a city in the Buenos Aires district of Río de la Plata province, in the old viceroyalty of Peru. Some of the records have indexes. Following is a citation to these records:
- Protocolos, 1584–1756. ([Notarial] Records, 1584–1756). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Archivo General de La Nación, 1991. (On 49 FHL films beginning with 1700187.)
The following three sources are chronological indexes to various court records. The original and complete documents are housed in the Archivo General de la Nación in Buenos Aires.
- Indice alfabético y cronológico de sucesiones, 1600–1920.(Alphabetical and chronological index of inheritance records, 1600–1920). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Archivo General de la Nación, 1989. (FHL film 1614822.)
- Catálogos cronológicos y de materias de Reales Ordenes, Reales Cédulas y otros decretos 1437–1813. (Chronological Catalogs and Material of the Reales Ordenes, Reales Cédulas and Other Decrees 1437–1813). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Archivo General de la Nación, 1989. (FHL film 1614819–20.)
- Catálogo de nombres y materias: fichero general, 1544–1880.(Catalog of names and subjects: general card file, 1544–1880). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Archivo General de la Nación, 1989. (FHL film 1614816–1614819.)
The following publication discusses Notarial records in detail:
- Ryskamp, George R. Tracing Your Hispanic Heritage. Riverside, California, USA: Hispanic Family History Research, 1984. (FHL book 946 D27r.)
Following is the address of the Notarial Archive for the Federal Capital in Buenos Aires:
- Archivo de Protocolos Notariales de la Capital Federal
Alsina 2280 1090
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telephone: 4952-9056, 4952-9057, or 4952-8848
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