Joe Biden’s middle name, Robinette, is enough to make any Huguenot researcher’s ears twitch; and, quick as a flash on his victory, Facebook group Huguenot Heritage claimed him.
Biden himself has been self-effacing about his ancestry: “It’s my grandmother Biden’s maiden name. It’s French. And it goes back a long, long way. Allegedly the Robinettes came over with Lafayette and never went home. I don’t know that. We can’t guarantee that.”
Yet according to the Protestant publishing house Editions Ampelos the American Robinettes didn’t arrive with Lafayette, but with the Quakers.
In 2008, when Biden became Vice President to Barak Obama, the publishing house asserted the following claim. Allen Robinett was a Huguenot who fled France for England, converted to Quakerism and married his wife, Margaret Symm, in London in 1653. The couple sailed for the New World with the followers of William Penn - the Quaker who founded Pennsylvania - arriving in 1682. Allen and Margaret had at least four children: Allen, Susanna, Samuel and Sarah. From these four children, Ampelos claims, the US families Robinette, Robinett and Robnett take their descent.
Doubtless there will be much poring over Biden’s pedigree over the coming four years. As Mark Twain said, “Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.” Tragically for Biden’s critics, this particular ancestry – assuming it’s true – is impeccably virtuous.
There’s a whole world of organisations who will be very proud to claim him, and it’s interesting to see Huguenot Heritage so fast out of the blocks.