The European Civil Law tradition prevailed in Spain and her colonies, meaning that transactional law and functions involved with the preparation and authentication—and even the preservation—of legal documents developed as a separate system from the functions of the courts and its advocates, or attorneys. Under a legal tradition that valued the introduction of written evidence over oral testimony, notaries were responsible for preparing those legal documents and authenticating them for presentation to the courts.

Protocolos As The Means Of Recordation And Preservation: Physical Arrangement And Indexing

 In addition to preparing and authenticating documents, the escribano publico also had full responsibility for recording his transactions in a format that would preserve them for future reference by the parties, courts and other elements of society. The result was the creation of the permanent notarial register, or protocolo. Generally, at the end of each year the notary arranged for the binding of the individual documents he had prepared into a single volume arranged in chronological order, often adding a cover sheet and indice (table of contents). In the mid-nineteenth century a movement started in Latin America to have all protocolos bound. At that point most of the older legajos were organized and commercially bound in volumes containing all of the documents drafted by a single notario during a specific year, or series of years.  For certain times and areas of Latin America where no appointed notaries functioned, the records were still bound into protocolos, but identified by the geographic locality of origin. Not all documents prepared before a notary in Spain and Latin America were bound into a Protocol. (This process is called protocolización). Be aware, in many cases the law required a document to be signed before the notary, but did not require that it be recorded for permanent preservation.

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For more about The History of Notaries in Spain and Her Colonies click here.

For more about Spanish Laws Relating to Notary  click here.

For more about  Format of Notarial Documents click here.





Click on the type of record below to learn more and see samples.

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(Power of attorney)
Compras - Ventas Reales 
(Purchases and Sales of 
Real Property)
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Inventario de dote
(Dowry inventory)
View sample 
Inventario de bienes de difunto
(Inventory of decedent's state & property)
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Prueba de pureza de sangre
(Proof of purity of blood)
View s ample

Capitulación Matrimonial          (Marriage contract )  View sample


Censo                                  (Annuity )                        View sample


Donación              (Gift)              View sample