Portugal Notarial Records

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Notarial Records

Notarial Records (Registros de Catório)

Notarial records refer to all records created by an area's notary. These include wills, land records, powers of attorney, marriage and death inventories, marriage contracts, and testimonies prepared for a court trial. Notarial records can provide a wealth of information about an individual's relationships and possessions, and can be used as substitute records in areas where civil and church records have been destroyed.

Although the position of notaries existed in Portugal since the thirteenth century, the office was institutionalized in the fourteenth century. Originally called tabelião, the title changed to notário in 1900.

There are three main types of notaries.

  • Public notaries (Tabeliães de Notas/Cartório Notarial) authenticated wills, codices, inventories, contracts, and transactions.
  • Ecclesiastic notaries (Tabeliães/ eclesiásticos) authenticated wills for members of the Catholic church.
  • Court notaries (Tabeliães de Audiências) served various functions within the court system.[1]

For the purpose of genealogy, public notaries recorded the most relevant information.

Online Records

In certain cases, wills (testamentos) were recorded by the Catholic Priest, and the records were transferred to district archives. Some of these records have been digitized.

Types of Records

Wills (Testamentos)

Record of the estate distribution at the death of the testator.
Usually contain:

  • Name of testator
  • Residence of testator
  • Names of family members and their relationship to the testator
  • Description of all personal and real estate of the testator[2]

Death Inventories (Inventários da mortes)

Record of the personal and real estate owned by the deceased individual.
Usually contain:

  • Name of deceased
  • Residences of deceased
  • Description of all personal and real estate of the deceased

Purchases and Sales (Vendas e compras)

Sales of real estate (land) and personal estate (movable goods).
Usually contain:

  • Name of seller
  • Name of buyer
  • Description of estate being sold[3]

Power of Attorneys (Procuraçãos)

Grants someone else the legal authority to act in onces behalf.
Usually contain:

  • Names and residences of persons granting and being granted power of attorney[4]

Notarial Archives

Most notarial records have not been digitized, and require on-site research to obtain. Consult the Portuguese Letter Writing Guide for guidance on composing a letter or email asking for a record lookup or arranging for an archival visit.

While some notarial records have been placed in district archives, many remain in notarial archives. Both archives should be consulted to find the notarial records pertaining to ones ancestors.

Most notarial records are organized by the name of the notary who kept the record. This becomes complicated in towns and cities that contained multiple notaries, as an individual may have gone to several different notaries across the course of their lifetime.

Many archives have create catalogs that identify the notaries in each area, alongside their years of service. These can be used to locate the names of all notaries who worked in the town where ones ancestor lived. Once the names of all the relevant notaries are located, their individual records can be searched for records pertaining to the ancestor.

Notarial Records at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has a select number of notarial records for Portugal.
To access them, perform a subject search at the FamilySearch Catalog for PORTUGAL - NOTARIAL.

Wiki Articles Describing Online Collections

References

  1. "História Institucional," in Arquivo Municipal Alfredo Pimenta, http://www.amap.com.pt/page/83. Visited 19 June 2017.
  2. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Portugal,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-1999.
  3. "Compra Venda e Permuta," en Ordem Dos Notários Portugal, http://www.notarios.pt/OrdemNotarios/PT/PrecisoNotario/CompraVenda. Visited 19 June 2017.
  4. "Procuraçãos," en Ordem Dos Notários Portugal, http://www.notarios.pt/OrdemNotarios/PT/PrecisoNotario/Procuracoes/. Visited 19 June 2017.