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How the Waldensian Notary Acts Were Created

It helps us understand the Notary Records if we know how these records were made and how they were deposited. At times, each of the larger villages seems to have had its own notary. Yet Waldensians from one village frequently appear in the notary records of another. This is often due to marriage to someone in the other village.

When a family sent for the local notary, he jotted down the key details on whatever scrap of paper he had handy, often using abbreviations or other symbols as he made those notes. Only later, when he had sufficient time (and, during times of persecution or war, perhaps long afterwards), he would transcribe those rough notes into the accepted style of the times. Sometimes he got confused about his symbols for a person's name or other details, and so there are times when several records serve together to help us identify an error in another record.

The notary act # 9 in the examples about the Janavel family is an excellent example of this. In that act, the notary recorded the Captain’s wife as Cattarina Durand-Revel, whereas all the other acts give it as Durand-Ruet. A careful analysis of the notary acts for Rorata (now Rorà) show that, although there were a few Revel families in the town then, there is not one other act in all the notary records giving the surname of Durand-Revel. The number of acts identifying her as a Durand-Ruet help us avoid problems from this error. Perhaps her mother’s (or grandmother’s) maiden surname was Revel, but the records do not exist from that generation to provide evidence about that.

The notary charged a fee for his services, so the poorest people are often absent from these records, or at least under-represented. Further, the notary was to deposit the records in the duke's archives at least once a year—but he was charged a fee for each act he deposited. The result could be a heavy financial burden on the notary. Sometimes, perhaps due to war or natural tragedies, the notary would hold acts from the end of one year.

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