Biden’s Biden Roots: Westbourne or Huntingdon, England or Maybe Nagpur, India?

Megan Smolenyak
9 min readNov 18, 2020
Memorial to Christopher Biden in Chennai (then Madras), India

I first researched incoming President Biden’s genealogy about a dozen years ago focusing on his 5/8 Irish heritage. Not surprisingly, there’s been a recent surge of interest in his heritage, particularly from people overseas hoping to claim him as a cousin or at least as having roots in their neck of the woods.

As often happens, more attention has been given to the surname branch of his family tree, so it’s not unexpected that three locations are already calling dibs on his Biden ancestry: Westbourne in Sussex, England, the Houghton-Wyton outskirts of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, England, and Nagpur, India (after a first generation in Chennai, formerly known as Madras).


Yes, India. Back in the 1980s, an Indian gentleman by the name of Leslie Biden wrote to then-Senator Biden about their shared ancestry, citing among other evidence an 1858 memorial to Captain Christopher Biden located in Madras.

I have fond memories of my days working in India, so need to confess to a bias. As soon as I saw Chennai/Nagpur as a contender, I wanted it to be so. The notion of both our President and Vice President having Indian ancestry appealed to me, but as a genealogist, I have to remain…



Megan Smolenyak

Genealogical adventurer & storyteller who loves solving mysteries! You may not know me, but chances are you’ve seen my work. (www.MeganSmolenyak.com)