While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Frank Wagner

BÉRANGER, JEAN (1685–?). Jean Béranger, a Breton sea captain in service of Governor Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and of the French Company of the Indies, was born at La Rochelle in 1685. Bienville was master of the Neptune in 1716 and sailed up the Mississippi as far as the site of New Orleans before turning back because of dangerous flooding and floating logs. Each year fleets of warships were sent from France to defend Louisiana from Spain. War broke out in early 1719, and Béranger participated in the assault and taking of Pensacola on May 14. The Spaniards counterattacked in August 1719, captured the small French garrison, and took them to Havana as prisoners. Pensacola was recaptured by the French on October 16. Béranger was ordered to take the Spanish prisoners to Havana because the French had insufficient food to feed them. In some manner unattested by documentary sources, Béranger was able to unload the Spanish prisoners at Havana and depart with his ship without being captured by the Spaniards.

When the French found the war was over in May 1720, Bienville ordered Béranger to explore the Bay of St. Bernard and look for a suitable site for colonization. Béranger took an old Spanish ship, renamed St. Joseph, that had been captured at Pensacola for the expedition, and his voyage resulted in the discovery of Aransas Pass, Texas. His description of St. Joseph and Mustang islands, Live Oak Point, and the language and customs of the Karankawa Indians remains the most authentic, definitive published account.

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols., San Francisco: History Company, 1886, 1889). Benjamin Franklin French, Historical Collections of Louisiana (New York: Wiley and Putnam, etc., 1846–53; rpt., New York: AMS Press, 1976). Marcel Giraud, Histoire de la Louisiane Français (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953; trans. by Joseph C. Lambert, rev. and corr. by the author, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974). Jack D. L. Holmes, "Dauphin Island in the Franco-Spanish War, 1719–22," in Frenchmen and French Ways in the Mississippi Valley, ed. John Francis McDermott (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1969). Pierre Margry, ed., Découvertes et établissements des Français dans l'ouest et dans le sud de l'Amérique septentrionale, 1614–1754 (6 vols., Paris: Jouast, 1876–86). Memoire des Cognoissances que de Sieur Béranger . . . (MS, Archives Nationales de France). Frank Wagner, ed., and William M. Carroll, trans., Béranger's Discovery of Aransas Pass (Friends of the Corpus Christi Museum, 1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Frank Wagner, "BERANGER, JEAN," accessed June 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbeam.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...