Written or printed paper containing an authoritative record or statement of any kind, usually a source of evidence or information on a particular subject; or anything bearing a legible or significant inscription or legend. It is called authentic if its contents are invested with special authority; genuine if it really emanates from the author. Ecclesiastical documents are attested or witnessed by the chancellor, or clerk of court, or prothonotary apostolic. In order to be valid, they require essential formalities as dates, signatures, qualifications of persons, accurate names of witnesses, etc. The beginning of written documents is at the end of the time of the Judges, for the people at that time were generally acquainted with the art of writing, reading, and were settled in prosperity.