I read this in the first paragraph of a Certificate of Notification:

Heard in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg 25th Jan. 2005 the following persons today appeared before me, the Hamburg Notary Public Dr. Robrt Diekgraf at the building of HSH where I had been requested to attend.

then follows the main body of the notification.

I am confused with the very first word HEARD. maybe this is outdated usage. but what does it mean. i feel this word can be omitted and the remaining makes a perfect sentence.
It seems to me that it's saying that whatever follows this introduction is what the Notary Public heard. The formal introduction is for the purpose of stating this fact with much ceremony and ado to make it really official! Essentially Dr. R. D. is swearing he heard it (saw it, witnessed it, observed it, whatever it was).
Isn't this the same 'heard' as in 'the judge heard the case', i.e. a legal hearing-- so it's a sort of legal heading to the paragraph-- perhaps in all capitals and Gothic script?
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Is it correct when you use the word 'heard' in an email or a letter?

I haven't heard from you in ages.


I haven't heard from my cousins for so many years.
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I certainly use it a lot, if casually, in both email and snail mail. We can hear from friends via phone, mail, telegram, or smoke signal.