Back in 2015, US President-elect Joe Biden spoke of distant relatives living in Mumbai

Not only Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, but US President-elect Joe Biden might also have an Indian connect. And just as Kamala Harris, these ancestral roots lie in Chennai.

As per Tim Willasey-Wilsey, a visiting professor at the King’s College, London, Joe Biden’s ancestors worked in the East India Company in the 19th century.

EIC And Biden: What Is The Connection?

In the 19th century, brothers Christopher and William Biden worked for the East India Company, taking the ship route between London and India. While William died at an early age, Christopher went on to Captain several ships during his service and eventually settled down to a prosperous life in Madras, as per professor Tim Willasey-Wilsey.

His older brother Christopher Biden became a well-known figure in Madras (modern Chennai) for many years and he did settle in India, Tim wrote in an article in a publication of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).

When Joe Spoke of His ‘Indian Relatives’

US President-elect Joe Biden first spoke of his probable Indian connect during his visit to Mumbai in 2013 much before Kamala Harris’ Chennai roots were in the news.

During this maiden vice presidential trip to India, Biden spoke about a letter he received when he became the senator for the first time several decades ago.

Narrating his story of the “'Biden from Mumbai”, Joe said, “It''s an honour to be back in India and to be here in Mumbai. Off script for a second here, I was reminded I was elected to the United States Senate when I was a 29-year-old kid back in 1972, and one of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it.”

"Maybe, some genealogist in the audience can follow up for me, but I received a letter from a gentleman named Biden - Biden, my name - from Mumbai, asserting that we were related," Biden had told the Mumbai audience.

‘5 Bidens Living In Mumbai’

Two years later, Joe Biden reiterated his ‘Indian connect’ claim at an event in Washington, saying there are five Bidens living in Mumbai.

Joe Biden claimed that his "great, great, great, great, great grandfather" George Biden was a Captain in the East India Trading company and after retirement, decided to settle in India and married an Indian woman.

"There are five Bidens in Mumbai, India," Biden, then the US Vice President told a Washington audience at the event.

Joe Biden, when he first visited Mumbai in 2013, had claimed of an Indian connect. In 2015, he said that he descended from George Biden, his “great, great, great, great, great grandfather” who was a Captain in the East India Company. After his retirement, George Biden settled in India and married an Indian woman.

What Does History Say?

As per professor Tim, there are no records of a George Biden in India, but there were two Bidens who became Captains of East India Company armed merchant ships.

“They were brothers. Both started out as humble Third and Fourth Mates in their early teens on the arduous route between London and India via the Cape of Good Hope. It was dangerous and uncomfortable work but the prospect of advancement made it attractive for sons of financially distressed but aspirational families,” Tim writes in the report.

The professor adds that Christopher Biden died in Madras (Chennai) and is commemorated by a plaque in the Cathedral there.

“There is also a portrait of Biden by George Chinnery seated with his dog, Hector. His wife Harriott lived on in London until 1880. Some of her papers are kept at Cambridge University and testify to her husband’s kindness and their mutual love. Nowhere is there mention of an Indian wife but Christopher seems the most likely candidate if Joe Biden indeed had an ancestor in India,” professor Tim Willasey-Wilsey says.