Grandson of the TENTH US president John Tyler dies aged 95

Grandson of the TENTH US president John Tyler dies aged 95 with three generations of family spanning over 230 years

  • Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. died on September 26 after having Alzheimer’s disease
  • He was the eldest surviving grandson of the tenth US president John Tyler 
  • The family is a genealogical marvel with three generations spanning over 230 years
  • John Tyler was born in 1790 shortly after Washington’s first inauguration
  • He had his 13th son Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr. in 1853 when he was 63
  • Lyon Sr., in turn, had Lyon Jr. when he was in his 70s, making the family’s extraordinary feat possible 
  • Lyon Jr. is survived by his younger brother Harrison Ruffin, 91, who continues their legacy  

The older of the two surviving grandsons of the tenth president of the U.S. John Tyler has died aged 95. 

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. passed away on September 26 in Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee, his daughter Susan Selina Pope Tyler confirmed to the New York Times.

His death was caused by Alzheimer’s disease.  

Tyler Jr., a lawyer and historian, was a member of a genealogical marvel, with three generations of his family spanning almost the entire history of the United States. 

His grandfather was born 230 years ago, just after George Washington became president, before going on to become president himself. 

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. died on September 26. He is pictured signing his name on the inside of a desk drawer with other descendants of past Presidents in August 2018

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. was the eldest surviving grandsons of tenth president John Tyler

This extraordinary feat was possible in part because his father had Lyon whilst in his 70s, meaning he were born nearly 140 years after his grandfather was.  

The president also had Lyon Sr. very late in life and their lifespan alone equates to 152 years.  

Lyon Jr. is survived by his brother Harrison Ruffin, 91, who continues the family’s amazing legacy.  

He was born in 1925 to Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr., the thirteenth son of the late president. Tyler had 15 children in total. 

He earned a law degree at the University of Virginia after graduating from William & Mary and practiced law in Richmond and Charles City County. 

His brother Harrison Ruffin was born four years after him, according to records kept by the Sherwood Forest Plantation Foundation, the home of President Tyler.

John Tyler, born in 1790 shortly after Washington’s first inauguration, grew up on a Virginia plantation, became a lawyer, and went on to become the nation’s tenth president after the death of his predecessor, William Henry Harrison in 1841.

Tyler was added the ticket as Harrison’s running mate initially to attract southerners who it was feared would think Harrison had abolitionist leanings. 

Tyler himself was a lifelong slave owner and champion of states’ rights. He had previously been a governor of Virginia and a United States representative and senator. 

John Tyler, born in 1790 shortly after Washington’s first inauguration. Three generations of his family have now spanned over 230 years, almost the entire history of the USA

Extended family tree: Both President Tyler and his son Lyon were married twice – their second wives, both much younger than their husbands, help explain the incredible time gap

Tyler served as president between 1841 to 1845 when Harrison died of pneumonia just a month after being sworn in.  

His first wife, Letitia Christian Tyler, died a year later while he was in office.


Tenth US president John Tyler

29 March 1790: John Tyler born in Greenway, Virginia

1807: graduated from William and Mary; Passed the Bar Exam and became lawyer two years later

March 1813: Married first wife Letitia Christian

1811-1839: Served as United States representative, state governor and senator 

1841: Became president, known as ‘His Accidency’ after the sudden death of William Henry Harrison

1853: Lyon Gardiner Tyler born; becomes historian

18 January 1862: John Tyler dies, aged 71

10 July 1889: Julia Gardiner Tyler dies, aged 69

1923: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr., marries second wife Sue Ruffin, two years after first wife dies

1925: Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. born

1928: Harrison Ruffin Tyler born

12 February 1935: Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr. dies, aged 81

26 September, 2020: Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. dies. He is survived by his younger brother, Harrison Ruffin Tyler, aged 91


The widower president, who was dubbed ‘His Accidency’ for the unusual manner in which he won the presidency, rose to fame from the ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too’ campaign.

Tyler’s presidency is mostly remembered as being utterly unremarkable. He was, however, the first president to have his veto overridden by congress and annexed Texas as the 28th state as America expanded west.

Tyler, who presided over the office during a time of bitter national divide, would later side with the confederacy during the Civil War.

But the Tyler grandchildren still like to remind Americans of some of the positives things he did during his presidency.

‘He’s been maligned in some ways, because he was elected to the Confederate Congress, so people say he’s a traitor,’ Harrison has said.

‘But actually, he should be known for his efforts as the organizer of the Peace Conference in Washington in 1861. He tried to get the uncommitted states to all agree on a program, and then get the other states to join in, and get everybody back together.’

Tyler, then 54, married Julia Gardiner, a woman from a wealthy Long Island family, on July 23, 1844, towards the tail-end of his one-term presidency.

She was 30 years his junior at 24. He was also the first president to marry while holding office.

The couple had seven children, added to eight more from President Tyler’s first marriage, and making his the most prolific family to inhabit the White House.

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr. was born in 1853.  

Lyon, Sr. had six children, according to his biography. He had Lyon Jr and Harrison Ruffin with his second wife, Sue Ruffin, who was born in 1889.

The family had links to the presidency even further back than Tyler himself. 

Lyon Jr. explained in a talk to the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2013 that his great-grandfather John Tyler Sr was in fact Thomas Jefferson’s roommate at the College of William & Mary. 

Lyon Sr. would go on to be a long-time president of the college.  

The three generations from John Tyler to Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr have seen a multitude of change. 

In the years leading up to Tyler’s presidency, horse-drawn carriages were the mode du jour; Arkansas, Michigan, Maine, and Missouri became states; and across the sea, Napoleon Bonaparte was conquering Europe. 

In 1842, the word ‘dinosaur’ was coined and three years later, Charles Darwin published ‘Voyage of the Beagle’.

In Lyon Tyler Sr.’s era, Theodore Roosevelt held office, the United Postal Service was founded, and a stone was laid to begin construction of the Washington National Cathedral.

His grandsons have seen the advent of airplanes, television, and the internet.

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