Joe Biden’s India connections spark genealogical frenzy - GulfToday

Joe Biden’s India connections spark genealogical frenzy


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris during an election campaign rally in Wilmington, Delaware. File

Gulf Today Report

US President-elect Joe Biden has speculated that he might have had relatives in colonial India as he has used every opportunity before an India related audience to tell them of his “great, great, great, great, great grandfather,” Captain George Biden, who was a captain in the East India Company, retired in India and had an Indian wife.

India has now started digging up potential local roots for US President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden joked to the audience, “If that’s true, I might run here in India for office. I might be qualified.”


INDIA-US-VOTE-BIDENA pastor shows a memorial tablet of Christoper Biden, a potential ancestor of Joe Biden at the St George’s Cathedral in Chennai.

The American vote has been under the spotlight in India because Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris is the daughter of a migrant from Tamil Nadu state.

The 56-year-old Harris has made much of her Indian connections and how she likes to eat “idli with a really good sambar” — typical food from the south.

A plaque commemorating 19th-century British ship captain Christopher Biden has been a popular selfie spot in the eastern city of Chennai since the US election.

Kamala-HarrisUS Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. File/AFP

It sparked excitement in Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state, which is also home to Harris’s Indian relatives.

A plaque at St George’s Cathedral in Chennai that celebrates Christopher Biden, born in 1789, has suddenly become a local tourist draw.

 “We’ve come to know the records of two Bidens — William Biden and Christopher Biden — who were brothers and became captains of the East India Company on merchant ships in the 19th century,” the Bishop of Madras, Reverend J. George Stephen, told media.

 “While William Biden died at an early age, Christopher Biden went on to captain several ships, and eventually settled down in Madras,” which is now known as Chennai.

Indian women prepare a Kolam, congratulating  Kamala Harris in Tamil Nadu. AP

Despite the speculation, there has been no confirmation that the Biden brothers are related to the 77-year-old American.

If the president-elect does have an Indian ancestor, Christopher is considered the most likely candidate, according to experts who have studied family records.

Biden said in a speech that he had received a letter from an Indian Biden after becoming a senator in 1972, suggesting they could be related.

"One of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it," he said.

There are also Bidens in Mumbai and Nagpur in Maharashtra state who could be descendants of Christopher, one of eight children of a John Biden who could be the common link.


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