How Vice President Joe Biden Traced His Irish Ancestry

Vice President Joe Biden’s ancestry traces back to the famine years in Ireland when hunger, despair and destitution propelled many of the Irish population to cross the Atlantic in search of a better future.

Born on 20 November 1942, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was the first born of Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. and Catherine Eugenia (known as Jean) Finnegan, who married in 1941. The ancestry of Jean Finnegan is purely Irish, tracing back to the years of Ireland’s massive emigration at the time of the Great Famine. Jean was the daughter of Ambrose Joseph Finegan and Geraldine Catherine Blewitt, both children of Irish immigrants. His Biden ancestors contribute his great grandmother, Mary Hanafy.

This report is undertaken by Ancestor Network, Ireland’s leading genealogy and family history research firm, genealogical advisor and publisher. This research has focused on the Finegan Family, Carlingford, Co. Louth and the Blewitt family, Co. Mayo.

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Finnegan Family, Carlingford, Co Louth

Joe Biden’s maternal great grandfather, James Finnegan, (father of Ambrose Finnegan), was born in Ireland to Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle. He was baptised 18 December 1840 in the RC Parish of Lordship His parents were recorded as Owen Finnegan and Jane Bail (sic). Almost all of his siblings were also baptised in this parish. His parents, Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle were married 8 December 1839 in the neighbouring RC Parish of Carlingford South, Co. Louth. The Finnegan family are believed to have originated in the townland of Whitestown .

Twenty four year old Owen Finigan (sic.), a shoemaker, arrived in New York on 26 February 1849 aboard the S.S. Isaac Wright. (It has been incorrectly recorded elsewhere that Owen Finnegan travelled aboard the S.S. Brothers in 1849. ) His wife, Jane Finigin (sic.) (née Boyle) migrated a year later on 15 May 1850 on the S.S. Marchioness of Bute accompanied by her children, James (7), Stephen (5) and Patrick (Infant).

The Federal Census of 1860 records Owen Finnegan, a shoemaker and Jane Finnegan in Ovid, New York with five children, the eldest being James (19, b.c.1841, recorded as being blind).
Owen Finnegan died on 15 June 1875 six months after the death of his wife, Jane Boyle on 23 December 1874 . They are buried in Holy Cross Cemetary, Ovid, Seneca County, New York.

Blewitt Family , Co. Mayo

Joe Biden’s maternal grandmother was Geraldine Catherine Blewitt, the daughter of Edward Francis Blewitt and Mary Ellen Stanton.

Edward Blewitt was a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate and was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Irish parents from Co. Mayo, Patrick Blewitt and Catharine “Kate” Scanlon. Edward Blewitt recorded that he was born on 2 January 1859 in New Orleans, Louisiana when he travelled aboard the S.S.Voltaire from Halifax, Nova-Scotia to Philadelphia in July 1924 .

The ‘Who’s Who in Pennysylvania’ recorded that Edward Blewitt married Mary Ellen Stanton in 1879 and had four children. Edward had an illustrious career in Engineering and was a State Senator for the 22nd District of Pennsylvania. He was described as a ‘Democrat in politics and a Roman Catholic in his religious faith’.

The US Federal Census of 1870 recorded Edward Blewitt with his parents Patrick and Kate [née Scanlon] in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Patrick Blewitt (40, b.c.1830), a Civil Engineer and his wife, Kate (35, b.c.1835) were both born in Ireland and all children are recorded as being born in Pennsylvania.

Patrick [Pat] Blewitt (aged 18 years) family migrated to the United States with his family aboard the S.S. Excelsior in June 1851. He travelled with his parents Edward Blewitt, his wife, Mary Mulderrig (both b.c.1802) and children (b.1831-1847) John (20), Maria (18), Michael (13), Thomas (11), Ed (10), Catherine (7) and Rob (4). Patrick died a widow, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on 25 Nov 1911.

The Blewitt and Scanlon families are thought to have originated in the townland of Rappacastle ), North West of Ballina in Co. Mayo .

Mary Ellen Stanton, who married Edward Blewitt in 1879, was the daughter of James Stanton and Mary Arthurs. Both her parents were also born in Ireland.

Completed by Ancestor Network
June 2016

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