Udayavni Special

‘Distant relatives’ mentioned by Joe Biden living in Nagpur since 1873

PTI, Nov 10, 2020, 8:02 PM IST

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 in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city since 1873, they claimed on Tuesday.

When Biden, then US Vice President, was in Mumbai in 2013, he had said at an event there that some of his distant relatives reside in India’s financial capital.

At the Mumbai event in 2013 and at another one in Washington in 2015, Biden had said that after becoming a senator in 1972, he had received a letter from one of the Bidens in India and 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 Nagpur, and claim their family has been living here since 1873.

Leslie’s granddaughter Sonia Biden Francis, a Nagpur- based psychologist, said that ‘Bidens in Nagpur and everywhere’ are elated with Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election. Sonia said Leslie Biden was based in Nagpur 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 on April 15, 1981. Joe Biden replied to Leslie through a letter dated May 30, 1981, 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, who also stays in Nagpur, 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 and committed to continue corresponding with each other. However, Leslie Biden’s health worsened and he died in 1983 at Nagpur. Leslie’s wife was unable to pursue the family tree further,” said Leslie’s granddaughter Rowena, who also lives in Nagpur.

The Biden family showed letters they claimed were part of the correspondence between Leslie and Joe Biden. 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 in Nagpur include Leslie’s daughter-in-law Angelina Biden.

His daughter Evelyn Majumdar, grandson Duncan Biden and granddaughter Sheryl Dweltz live in Mumbai, Sonia said, adding the Bidens have been living in Mumbai since 1971.

Leslie Biden’s daughter Lillian Biden D’sSouza stays in Nagpur as do his grandsons Leslie Biden and Nigel Lazarus, she said.

His daughter Charmaine Biden Borges and grandchildren Denzil, Charlene, and David stay in New Zealand, while Erica and Lincoln stay in Australia. Another grandkid Tithi also lives abroad, she added.

Speaking at the Bombay Stock Exchange on July 24, 2013, Biden 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, and one of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it. Maybe, some genealogist in the 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,” Biden had told the Mumbai audience seven years ago.

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 and after retirement, decided to settle in India and married an Indian woman.

“There are five Bidens in Mumbai, India,” Biden had told the audience.

Biden had also said someone provided him with the details including the phone numbers of the Bidens in Mumbai. He had informed the audience that he was yet to call his kin but was planning to do so.

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