Chef lieu de canton du Morbihan.
10323 habitants

Situated on the banks of the Loch, Auray is a picturesque city, known in history for the battle fought in 1364 between Jean de Montfort and Charles de Blois, during which Du Guesclin was taken prisoner.

Remarkable examples of 15th, 16th and 17th century architecture can be found in this maritime city.

The work which gave St. Goustan, the port at Auray, its appearance today began around 1614 with the construction of the two wharves which enclose the river. Construction of the Franklin wharf began in 1630

In 1631, Auray was the third largest Breton port after Quimperle‚ and Hennebont. Note that the commercial ports in Brittany are not situated directly on the coast, but further inland, most probably for reasons of security, but also to be closer to the areas where cereal is grown, one of the major exports of the region.

It is from this port, on July 4, 1632, that Isaac de Razilly set sail, on board the "l'Espérance en Dieu", to recapture Port Royal in Acadie. He landed at La Hâve on September 8.

This fact was related in the Gazette of Théophraste Renaudot, from which comes the phrase "Three hundred men of the elite" which has caused much ink to flow since then. Who were these men? Did they include some of our ancestors? These questions still remain unanswered. We can believe that a large number of these men were soldiers, but they certainly must have been accompanied by families destined to populate the land.

This was not the only departure for Acadie from Auray; in 1633, the brother of Nicholas Denys, Jacques Denys, set sail for Canada.
But the participation of Auray in the settlement of Acadie did not stop there.
Among the hired soldiers from Auray, who for the most part would not start families on the other side of the Atlantic, particular mention must be made of Francois Richard.
François Richard was born at Auray around 1686, son of Jean Richard, wine merchant, (a profession which must not have been a rarity in this city, as the ships unloaded large quantities of wine there) and Anne Christin. He arrived in Acadie circa 1707 as a soldier in a company of a detachment of marine troops. He was married for the first time at Port Royal, on 29/10/1710 to Anne Commeaux, daughter of Jean Commeaux and Françoise Hebert; children of this union were: Joseph 1712, François 1714, Jean-Baptiste 1716, Anne 1718, Marie-Josephe 1720. His second marriage at Port Royal, on 26/10/1722 with Marie Martin daughter of René Martin and Marie Meunier produced: Madeleine 1723, René 1726, Dorothée 1728.
We cannot leave Auray without calling forth a great figure in the history of the United States.
In 1776, Benjamin Franklin, man of science, politician and philosopher, was designated by Congress to seek France's help in the War of Independence.
A small warship, the Reprisal was to bring him to Nantes. Adverse winds forced him to anchor in the bay at Quiberon. Benjamin Franklin went up the Auray River in a rowboat and landed at St. Goustan on December 4, 1776. From there, he traveled to Nantes by postchaise.

Thank you Rose MacKinnon for the translation


Sources:
Bulletin of the Historical and Archeological Society of Auray
Little history of the port of Saint Goustan (Sten Kidna)
Author's photographs.

François Roux 05/09/1998