The Grandson of a President

Three generations spanning over 220 years

John Tyler

I have been doing some research on American presidents for another project, and I was shocked to learn something about President John Tyler. At first, I was shocked that there was even a president named John Tyler. Who knew? He was number 10, also known as “His Accidency” due to his being the first unelected president. He inherited the office from William Henry Harrison, who died just one month after inauguration.

Tyler was president from 1841 to 1845, two decades before Abraham Lincoln. When Tyler was a youth, George Washington was still running the country. But would you believe that John Tyler has a grandson that is still living? He’s not a zombie, or a Dorian Gray wannabe. His name is Harrison Ruffin Tyler, currently about age 82, and he still lives at Sherwood Forest, President Tyler’s retirement home in Charles City County, Virginia.

President Tyler lived from 1790 to 1862. His first wife, Letitia Christian Tyler, died while he was president, but not before having eight children (of course not all in the White House). Three months later, he started courting Julia Gardiner Tyler, thirty years his junior, and they married about one year before his presidential term ended. She had seven children with John. Her child number 5 (John’s child number 13) was Lyon Gardiner Tyler, who lived from 1853 to 1935. John Tyler was 63 at Lyon’s birth.

Lyon, a president of the College of William and Mary, had two children of his own that lived into adulthood. The second one, Harrison Ruffin Tyler, was born in 1928 when Lyon was 75. What a spry family!

The Sherwood Forest house is open to the public, and Harrison Tyler himself offers guided tours of the home and the family. To set up a tour, or to learn more about the Tyler family, visit


  1. Of course, I was surprised that you didn’t know there was a President John Tyler since I was given all the presidents to remember as a task in grammar school. But do we really want the government to homogenize education? No, freedom is what we want.

  2. I just found out recently that they are my cousins. I am a descendant of John Tyler III sister Elizabeth. Really quite interesting and neat to find this information out. I hope to one day go out to Virginia and see the home.


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