c. 1300, notarie, "a clerk, a personal secretary; person whose vocation was making notes or memoranda of the acts of others who wished to preserve them, and writing up deeds and contracts," from Old French notarie "scribe, clerk, secretary" (12c.) and directly from Latin notarius "shorthand writer, clerk, secretary," from notare, "to note," from nota "shorthand character, letter, note" (see note (n.)).
Meaning "person authorized to draw up and authenticate contracts and other legal instruments" is from mid-14c.; especially in notary public (late 15c.), which has the French order of subject-adjective. Related: Notarial.