Meet the other Bidens: Family says living in Nagpur since 1873


Nagpur: Some of the ‘distant relatives in India’ US President-elect Joe Biden spoke of in 2013 and then again in 2015, have been living here since 1873. This claim was made by the ‘other’ Bidens here Tuesday. Joe Biden had also talked about his Indian roots after winning the US presidential polls.

When Biden, then US Vice-President, was in Mumbai in 2013, he had said there that some of his distant relatives reside in India’s financial capital. In 2015 Biden had said that after becoming a senator in 1972, he had received a letter from one of the Bidens in India. He had then learned that his ‘great, great, great, great, great grandfather’ worked in the East India Company.

The letter was written by Nagpur-based Leslie Biden, whose grandchildren stay in this city. They claimed their family has been living here since 1873.

Leslie’s granddaughter Sonia Biden Francis is a Nagpur-based psychologist. She toled that ‘Bidens in Nagpur and everywhere’ are elated with Joe Biden’s victory.

Sonia said Leslie Biden was based in this city and was the manager of the Bharat Lodge and Hostel and Bharat Cafe in the ‘orange city’, before he died in 1983.

“While reading the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ weekly issue of March 28-April 4, 1981, Leslie came across an article about the then US senator Joe Biden,” Sonia said.

“Leslie got in touch with Joe Biden through a letter sent April 15, 1981. Joe Biden replied to Leslie through a letter dated May 30, 1981. In the letter he said he was pleased after getting the letter from India and also discussed about the Bidens’ genealogy,” she said.

Sonia’s elder brother Ian Biden (44), a former seafarer in the merchant navy, also stays here. He said Leslie and Joe Biden shared information regarding a common ancestor John Biden and his wife Anne Beaumont.

“Leslie and Joe Biden thanked each other for corresponding. They committed to continue corresponding with each other. However, Leslie Biden’s health worsened and he died in 1983. Leslie’s wife was unable to pursue the family tree further,” said Leslie’s granddaughter Rowena, who also lives here.

The Biden family showed this correspondent letters they claimed were part of the correspondence between Leslie and Joe.

Asked if the Nagpur-based Bidens would attend Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, the family members said they are extending their best wishes to the 77-year-old Biden.

“The Bidens of Nagpur, Mumbai, New Zealand and the US gathered in January 2018 for the wedding of Leslie’s grandson Leslie David Biden,” Sonia said.

Leslie Biden’s descendants live in Nagpur, Mumbai, the US, Australia and New Zealand, Sonia said. The Bidens living here include Leslie’s daughter-in-law Angelina Biden. Leslie’s daughter Evelyn Majumdar, grandson Duncan Biden and granddaughter Sheryl Dweltz live in Mumbai, Sonia informed. She added that they have been living in Mumbai since 1971.

Speaking at the Bombay Stock Exchange July 24, 2013, Biden had 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. It was one of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it. Maybe, some genealogist in 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.”

In his 2015 speech in Washington, Biden had claimed that his ‘great, great, great, great, great grandfather’ George Biden was a Captain in the East India Trading company. After retirement, he decided to settle in India and married an Indian woman. “There are five Bidens in Mumbai, India,” Biden had told the audience.