Business mogul Richard Branson (founder of Virgin) is one of the celebrities who will appear on the PBS show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. By analyzing Branson’s DNA, Gates’ team discovers that a branch of Branson’s family was from India. A James Henry Arthur Branson was born in Vepery, Madras, India in 1839. And like all good DNA investigations, one clue leads to another.
Gates tells Branson that in the 1800s the Bransons in India kept a secret. When Richard Branson’s second great grandmother Eliza Cornelia Wilson Wellington Reddy was born in Madras, India in 1817, the name of her mother was missing from Eliza’s baptismal records, which is odd. Branson guessed that “someone had misbehaved.” Gates explains that the omission of the mother’s name on a baptismal record of a white child usually means the mother was not white. In this case, the mother was Indian. Branson says, “I’m proud to say I’m part Indian.” When Branson was interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2015, he told Indian TV network NDTV: “I think India is enormously exciting right now. I think the world has a lot of respect for the way India is going.” He added, “I’m definitely willing to bet on India.” Now he finds out India already bet on him. Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr. airs Tuesdays at 8pm on PBS.