Abbey of ST Rambert
The history of the town begins with the foundation of a little monastery by Domitien in the 5th century. In 680, Ragnebert or Rambert, a Frankish knight, was assassinated on the orders of the Mayor of the palace, Ebroin, and buried in the monastery. Later his name was given to the monastery and to the district that spread out below it.
St Rambert and Savoy
In 1196 the Abbot of St Rambert handed over his castle, Cornillon, to the count of Savoy. St Rambert, Le Bugey and the other regions which, at the time of the Revolution, made up the department of Ain, became possessions of Savoy. In 1442 the Duke of Savoy established the seat of Justice for Le Bugey at St Rambert; this conferred considerable importance on the town.
Treaty of Lyons (1601)
The Treaty brought this region back into the kingdom of France. St Rambert became an earldom belonging to the Royal Princess of Savoy. It retained its seat of Justice up till the Revolution. For this reason in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were numerous judges, solicitors, lawyers and notaries … at St Rambert. There were several bourgeois families in the town carrying out these duties … Guichard, Tenand, Reverdy, Juvanon, Baron, Brun Augerd …
The principal industry in St Rambert at this time was flourishing: the manufacture of hemp cloth (serviettes and tablecloths) and two other secondary industries: tanning leather and paper making. Merchants, shopkeepers, cloth makers and weavers occupied an important place in the administration of the town.
St Rambert had a college, founded in 1607, and mostly the teachers were clerics (primary and secondary classes). It was closed in 1794.
There was also a hospital, but its origins have been lost.
St Rambert in the 19th century
From 2244 inhabitants in 1810, the town population rose to 5028 in 1901, thanks to arrival in the Albarine valley of the textile industry: curing, washing, combing and spinning the broken silk into what is still called ‘schappe’. After many changes the textile industry completely disappeared in the 1980s.
The Genealogy of Antoine Marie Garin
Antoine Marie Garin was born on 23 July 1810 at St Rambert, son of Joseph Marie Garin – 43 years, a public notary in St Rambert – and of Françoise Marguerite Augerd, his wife.
Genealogical research undertaken in the civil registers of the Mayor’s office and also in certain registers of notaries has revealed the following information.
The Garin Family
The Garin’s were not natives of St Rambert: the family settled in 1730 at Hauteville-Lompnes, a market centre situated about 30 kilometres away. Joseph Garin, husband of Marie Pilard, was a merchant in 1730 when, on 18 April, one of his children, Raphael was born – he would become the grandfather of Antoine Marie.
Raphael Garin (born 18.4.1730 at Hauteville)
In 1754 he arrived in St Rambert where another Garin had settled about 10 years before – probably a cousin – Claude, who was a carpenter. Raphael came from the diocese of Annecy and set himself up as a notary in St Rambert.
On 27 June 1763 he married Marie-Louise Augerd, daughter of the late Jean-Louis Baptiste Augerd, bourgeois, and of the late Catherine Bichat. He was called a ‘notary and finance manager’.
The Augerd Family
Marie-Louise’s ancestors, present in St Rambert at the beginning of the 17th century, were for the most part skilled tradespeople, qualified as ‘Master’, master shoemakers in particular. Master Pierre Augerd, great-uncle of Marie Louise, was a teacher at the College about 1720. The girls married influential people, members of the magistracy.
Marie-Louise’s father, Jean-Louis, Baptiste Augerd, (1704 – 1763) married Catherine Bichat from Amberieu about 1725. He was a Merchant tanner. The couple had 11 children of whom 6 survived: two boys – Bruno born in 1734 became a general practitioner in 1741; Gaspard Victor Jerome Daniel born in 1739 also became a general practitioner in 1758; and four girls – Marie-Louise born in 1741 was the 10th child; Marie-Helene born in 1743, the oldest girl, became a Sister at the Hospital of St Rambert in 1764. The two other girls married – one to a merchant from a neighbouring village and the other to Joseph Alexis Mochet, the first director of the College in 1763.
So the Augerds were honest bourgeois of St Rambert, and little by little they rose to become magistrates. The most famous, a distant connection of Marie-Louise’s family, was Victor Augerd (1757 – 1837), Justice of the Peace in St Rambert for 28 years and distinguished botanist; in 1825 he published a thesis on ‘The Study of Botany’. His son Felix was also a Justice of the Peace; his grandson Victor was a Judge of the Court at Bourg; and his great grandson was a colonel in the infantry. In 1928 the last mentioned bequeathed his family home to the commune of St Rambert, and the Marist Brothers of St Genis Laval in the Rhone district opened a school for boys in it. You could study there up to your preliminary brevet. The school continued up to the end of the 1940s. For a while young girls were given medical courses there by doctors, surgeons and midwives.
Let us return to Raphael Garin
The records for Raphael Garin, found in the archives of the notaries of St Rambert, begin in 1765.
Of 7 children in this family born between 1764 and 1777 only two survived:
- the eldest was Jeanne-Marie Garin, born 22 October 1764.
- the second was Joseph-Marie Garin, born 26 July 1766 (the future father of Antoine-Marie).
Their mother, Marie Louise Augerd died 17 April 1782.
As well as being a notary, Raphael Garin was also one of the administrators of the town – a councilor. So on 9 June 1774, along with the Mayor, the officers and the current councilors, he took the oath of fidelity and obedience to the new king of France, Louis XVI, in the main room of the Town Hall.
In February 1780, among the three people elected by the general assembly of inhabitants to hold executive office, Raphael Garin was the one approved by the king. The Executive Officer comes after the Mayor who is Leader of the Community. Elected for two years, he administered the finances.
During the period of the Revolution, he became one of the six councilors of the municipality of St Rambert in 1790 and one of the district administrators for St Rambert, renamed Montferme in 1793 (when anything that had a Saint’s named had to be done away with). Raphael Garin died at St Rambert on 24 Vendemiaire, Year 10 – or 16.10.1801
Joseph Marie Garin (born 26 July 1766, St Rambert)
He also took up the profession of notary. For some time, from 1794 up to about Year 4, he practiced at the same time as his father who signed the registers “Garin father” while Joseph Marie signed “Garin son”.
He probably married about Year 3 (1795) Françoise Marguerite Augerd. The marriage did not take place at St Rambert, because the bride’s family lived about 20 kilometres away at Ambronay. By cross-checking it can be established that the couple were first cousins. In fact, Joseph Marie Garin is the son of Marie Louise Augerd, while Françoise Marguerite Augerd is the daughter of Gaspard Victor Jerome Daniel Augerd, brother of Marie Louise. The father of the bride was ‘Commissioner of Executive Power for the canton of Ambronay’ in Year 4.
The couple had 9 children between 1796 and 1810. Without doubt, the consanguinity explains the death at birth or at a very young age of the first seven children. The ones who lived were:
- the 8th : Numa Raymond born on 29 June 1808
- the 9th : Antoine Marie Garin born 23 July 1810
Numa Garin was notary at St Rambert, as the registers signed by him in 1841 prove.
When his father died at 80 years of age, on 5 November 1846, Numa who registered the death at the Mayor’s offices, declared him as a ‘surveyor of forests’ at Nantua (50 kilometres from St Rambert).
The mother, Françoise Marguerite Augerd, doubtless went to live with her eldest son, since there is no trace of her death in the civil registers of St Rambert. We would need to verify in the archives of Nantua in order to establish whether Numa founded a family there or whether his mother and he died there. (To be continued!!)
Antoine Marie Garin (born 23 July 1810 at St Rambert)
The following information was obtained in the diocese of Belley, from the beginning of the priestly life of Antoine Marie Garin:
- studied at the major seminary of Belley.
- tonsure and minor orders: 2 May 1833 at Brou (abbey church of Bourg en Bresse, the main town of the department of Ain) Monsignor Devie, Bishop of Belley.
- sub-deacon: 21 July 1833 at Brou. Msgr Devie.
- deacon: 15 March 1834 at Brou, Msgr Devie.
- priest: 19 October 1834 at Brou, Msgr Devie.
- curate: 1 November 1834 at Salavre, a village north of Bourg, near the department of the Jura.
- curate: 16 December 1835 at Chalamont, market district of Dombes, south of Bourg.
- teacher at the minor seminary of Meximieux: 6 October 1838.
- Marist at Belley, 1839.
Other information has been provided by Sister Marie Benedicte, former Superior General of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions who live at the Abbey of St Rambert. The Sisters have owned the property since about 1980, prior to which – between 1949 and 1979 – the Sisters educated there more than 500 Eurasian girls from Vietnam.
The Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions established a foundation at Napier in New Zealand in 1865. In 1872 the Sisters of this Congregation came to Nelson to teach in a school for girls established by Father Garin. (The circle is complete!)
Catherine Goulter has written a biography of Father Garin entitled Sons of France, A Forgotten Influence on New Zealand History, Wellington 1958. It contains a chapter on Father Garin SM.
And in 1944 Sister Elizabeth Gill RNDM presented an MA thesis on The Life and Work of Reverend Antoine M. Garin S.M. From these two works we learn that Father Garin left for New Zealand in 1840. His first years in the district of Auckland were given over to the evangelization of the Māori people. He arrived at the mission station of Nelson in 1850. During 40 years in this town he developed the works of education with considerable competence: schools, boarding schools for boys and girls.
He died in Nelson on Sunday 14 April 1889. He is buried in a little funeral chapel in the cemetery of Nelson, which is still there today.
(There are many other interesting details in these biographies concerning the personality of Father Garin, the difficulties he experienced in the course of his priestly life …)
Discovery of an unpublished document written by Father Garin
During 2001, a New Zealand Sister belonging to the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary – Sister Catherine Jones – was undertaking some historical research in the Marist Fathers’ archives in Rome. She discovered a document presented in the form of a world map drawn by Father Garin. It shows the day by day journal of the travels that brought him to New Zealand. On the space left free from the drawing of the continents he wrote a letter to his parents giving the minute details of his trip. It is a remarkable and colossal work. The SMSM Sister made a copy of it, which is presently at the Abbey of St Rambert.
There is another copy in the Garin College office, where we also have Father Garin’s schoolboy atlas and other items that belonged to him.