Hawaiian Kingdom Notary Laws 1846

Hawaiian Kingdom Notary Laws 1846Hawaiian Kingdom Notary Laws 1846

Before Hawaii became a state, it was the Hawaiian Kingdom, the Republic of Hawaii and the Territory of Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Islands were settled by Polynesian explorers from the Marquesas Islands using voyaging canoes around 300 AD, followed by immigrants that sailed from Tahiti during the 9th century.

After the arrival of British Captain James Cook and the Europeans in 1778, the islands were unified in 1795 under the leadership of King Kamehameha I, using European cannon and muskets. Cook named them the Sandwich Islands, after the Earl of Sandwich. Within one hundred years, American political and religious influence eroded the powers of the indigenous monarchs and gained control on January 17, 1893.

King Kamehameha statue Hawaiian flagHawaiian Kingdom Government

King Kamehameha the Great established the Hawaiian Kingdom Government as an absolute monarchy in 1810. The Hawaiian Kingdom was governed without legal enactments until the Declaration of Rights of 1839, and was based on common law, consisting of the ancient kapu (taboo) and the practices of the celebrated Chiefs.

In 1840, during Hawaii’s transformation to Christianity, King Kamehameha III, promulgated a Constitution changing the government from an absolute monarchy into a national constitutional monarchy. Early Hawaiians lacked a written language but showed an avid interest in learning to read and write. Sugar cane plantations attracted wealthy business owners and field workers from many countries creating a multi-ethnic society.

In 1893, elite businessmen usurped control, forming the Republic of Hawaii for 5 years, followed by the U.S. Territory of Hawaii, 1898-1959, and finally the state of Hawaii in 1959.

Notary Laws

The Hawaiian Kingdom notary laws were published in Honolulu in 1846 in the Statute Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha III, King of the Hawaiian Islands, passed by the Houses of Nobles and Representatives during the twenty-first year of his reign.

Because of the importance of ocean shipping, notaries were involved in protests of commercial paper, based on the law merchant (common law). The King approved the notarial seal.

Some excerpts from the notary laws:

Section I. The attorney general shall be ex officio, the principal notary public for the Hawaiian Islands. He shall as such have power, with the approbation of His Majesty, in privy council, to appoint, upon his own responsibility, subject to his control and removal, notaries public, to be resident at Lahaina in the island of Maui, at Hilo in the island of Hawaii, and at Hanalei in the island of Kauai, whom it shall be his duty to instruct regarding any of the acts required by law to be performed by a notary public.

Notaries shall as often as occasion will permit give notice to the said principal notary of all their acts and transactions, and in all cases of doubt apply to him by letter for instructions.

Captain James Cook statue HawaiiSection IV. All such general notarial acts of protestation, disconnected from the protest of commercial paper hereinafter provided for, shall be solely made at the notarial office in Honolulu.

Section VII. The said principal notary and the respective notaries by him commissioned, shall have power legally to hold the endorsers and guarantors of mercantile paper for non-payment, and the drawers for non-acceptance pursuant to the inferences of the law merchant regarding promissory notes, bills of exchange and drafts for the payment or money, or the delivery of specific articles.

Section IX. Notaries presenting and protesting any promissory note, bill of exchange, or draft drawn payable in this kingdom shall give notice by personal delivery, or reasonably safe conveyance, or inland mails, or by ship.

Section XII. All adopters of children, within thirty days, shall transmit the written act and terms of such adoption attested by some judicial officer of this kingdom, to the said principal notary public, at Honolulu, to be by him enregistered at the expense of the adopter; in default of which, such act of adoption shall be void and of no effect.

Section XIV. The notaries appointed by the said principal notary shall have power to take and to certify in the respective islands for which they are appointed, the acknowledgment of the execution of conveyances, deeds, mortgages and releases of dower in lands, and the execution of bills of sale of chattel property, contracts and agreements, articles of marriage settlement, letters of copartnership, powers of attorney, and any other instrument required to be recorded by the registrer of conveyances; and their certificates of such acknowledgment under seal shall be as valid evidence of the facts so certified as if taken and made by the registrer of conveyances in person.

Section XV. The said principal notary and the respective notaries appointed by him shall for all the purposes given them in charge by this act, be in this kingdom officers of the law of nations, competent to discharge the various acts capable of performance by notaries public under the laws of other nations; and their certificates under notarial seal shall have the same binding force in all respects.

Section XVI. The seal of the department of law shall be the notarial seal of the attorney general as principal notary public for this kingdom; and for the other notaries herein contemplated, His Majesty shall adopt a notarial seal of the device and diameter to be recommended to him in privy council by the attorney general; of which, when so adopted, due notice shall be given in the Polynesian newspaper.


Image Credits
1. Royal Coat of Arms, Kingdom of Hawaii, 1845 by Sodacan, vector image created with Inkscape. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
2. Statue of King Kamehameha I in Kapaʻau, Hawaii by Lux Tonnerre [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
3. Statue of Captain James Cook, Waimea, Kauai, honoring his first contact with the Hawaiian Islands, by Caracas1830 assumed. [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

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