The US president’s by-name, Robinette

READERS' VIEWS (The Freeman) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.’s father is Joseph Biden Sr. His mother is Mary Elizabeth Robinette, born in 1894 in Maryland USA, deceased 1943 in Newton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Biden Sr. in 1944 married the Irish Catherine Eugenia née Finnegan from Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Consequently, the president is of Irish and French stock.

While the Irish ancestry of Blewitts and Finnegans is safely researched in the Church registers there are two versions of the French roots. I try to shed light on the by-name Robinette.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. explains: It is my grandmother Biden’s maiden name. It is French. And it goes back a long long way. Allegedly the Robinettes came over with General Lafayette and never went back. I don’t know, I can’t guarantee that.

The doubt is justified. In the French Wikipedia we read: The families Robinette, Robinett and Robnett, who live in the United States and Canada originate from Allen Robinett, a quaker, son of an huguenot who during the persecutions against the protestants in France fled to London and then in 1682 embarked for Pennsylvania.

Allen is born in London in 1632. His father, that huguenot must have been Richard Robinette, but his mother is unknown.

In 1685 King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that granted religious freedom to French Calvinists and other non-Catholics known as huguenots. Religious wars broke out. Huguenots emigrated to other countries.

The French Editions Empelos gives more details: In fact the American Robinetts have not come with Lafayette. They go back to a certain Allen Robinett, hugenot of a French quaker family that sought refuge in England. Allen married Margaret Symm in London in 1653. They arrived in the New World with the partisans of William Penn who was persecuted in England for his quaker faith. Penn founded Pennsylvania (Penn’s woods) in 1692. He had obtained a land there from English king Charles II as a payment of a debt that he owed to his deceased father, Admiral Sir William Penn.

Allen and Margaret Robinett settled in Penn’s quaker colony in 1682 where people could enjoy freedom of religion. They had at least four children, (if not 8?) Allen, Susanna, Samuel and Sarah from whom descend the present families Robinette, Robinett and Robnett in America. Allen died in 1694.

There seemingly is an undocumented gap of several generations for in the genealogy tree of the Bidens the oldest Robinettes are Moses Johnson Robinette (1819- 1903) and his wife Jane Eliza Robinette née Pumphrey, born in 1820 in Washington DC and deceased in 1865.

Their child is George Hamilton Robinette, father of Mary Elizabeth Robinette (see above) who is the mother of Joseph Biden Sr., the president’s father.

It seems the gap is filled in a comprehensive work of two books by James M. Robinett, professor at Wisconsin University, both titled: Allen Robinett and his descendants in America. There are enumerated eight family names the first of which is the Robinette family and the second is James’ own Robinett family.

Erich Wannemacher

Lapu-Lapu City

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