President John Tyler has two living grandsons

At the Corner, Mark Krikorian mentions the amazing news that two grandsons of President John Tyler, who was president from 1841 to 1845, are still alive. Krikorian tells us nothing more, but provides a some links.

According to the Wikipedia article on John Tyler (1790—1862), Tyler had, by his second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler (born 1820), a son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935). It says that Harrison Ruffin Tyler, a son of Lyon, was born in 1928 (when Lyon was 75) and is still alive.

So, John Tyler at age 63 had a son Lyon Gardiner Tyler, and Lyon Gardiner Tyler at age 75 had a son Harrison Ruffin Tyler, and Harrison is about 80 and still alive. 63 plus 75 plus 80 equals 208 years. Three generations span the years from 1790 and 2009. Amazing.

However, Wikipedia doesn’t say anything about a second living grandson. Krikorian links a photo of one Lyon Tyler identified as Tyler’s grandson, but the page gives no information about him. There’s no Wikipedia article on him. Presumably he is also a son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler.

So I looked up President Tyler’s son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, at Wikipedia. He had three children by his first wife, and, after she died, he had three children by his second wife, Sue Ruffin:

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., Harrison Ruffin Tyler, the current owner of the Sherwood Forest Plantation, and Henry Tyler, who died in infancy.

Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. is thus the Lyon Tyler in the photo. I googled him and found him listed at Wikipedia’s page on presidents’ children, and he is still living:

  • Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. (1924—present)

  • Harrison Ruffin Tyler (1928—present)

  • Henry Tyler (1931)

- end of initial entry -

March 13

Harry Horse writes:

At the photo link, note the accompanied guest: “Shannon Lanier (Sally Heming descendant of President Thomas Jefferson)”

Would any modern American historical gathering be complete without a gratuitous, liberal revisionist token?

March 15

Ron K. writes:

I’d heard about Tyler’s grandsons before, but hadn’t taken notice of the names until reading your recent post about them.

I knew that a Lion Gardiner was essentially the first New Yorker, i.e., an Englishman in English-ruled territory in what’s now New York state. There were some stray Englishmen in New Amsterdam before that (including possibly my odd ancestor, Nicholas Stillwell), but they were governed by the Dutch.

It didn’t take long to learn that John Tyler’s second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler, was born on Gardiner’s Island, and descends from the original Lion, hence her son’s (and grandson’s) name. The Gardiner family owns the island to this day.

Though Gardiner was the first English resident of Suffolk County, nearby Southold was founded a year after his arrival and claims to be the first English community in the state. There was a big to-do in the 1990s about their town seal, which made an early American Renaissance issue. Evidently “oldest English settlement,” or language to that effect, constitutes fightin” words today.

Incidentally, speaking of New Amsterdam, the Dutch were in the minority there, albeit a plurality. (Which is why they lost it!) It’s quite possible that New York City has never had an ethnic majority at any time in its history.

[UPDATE, June 19, 2011: See Ron K.’s remarkable follow-up, about how he discovered that the Lion Gardiner whom he discusses in the above comment, the ancestor of John Tyler’s second wife, was his, Ron K.’s, own ancestor.]

LA writes:

Two selections from the Wikipedia article:

Gardiners Island is a small island in eastern Suffolk County in the U.S. state of New York, located in Gardiners Bay between the two peninsulas at the eastern end of Long Island. It is 6 miles (10 km) long, 3 miles (5 km) wide and has 27 miles (43 km) of coastline. It has been owned by the same family for nearly 400 years, and although occasionally reported as the largest privately owned island in America or the world, it is not.It is, however, the only American real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant from the English Crown….

First English settlement in New York

In 1639, the island was settled by Lion Gardiner from a grant by Charles I as the first colonial English settlement in present-day New York state. The island was originally in its own jurisdiction affiliated with neither New York nor New England. The island has been privately owned for over three hundred years by his descendants, and is the only real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant from the English Crown.

Lion Gardiner reportedly purchased the island in 1639 from the Montaukett Indians for “a large black dog, some powder and shot, and a few Dutch blankets.” The Indians called the island Manchonake, while the Gardiners initially called it Isle of Wight. The Montauketts gave Gardiner title at least in part because of his support for them in the Pequot War.

The original 1639 royal patent gave Gardiner the “right to possess the land forever” with the island being declared a proprietary colony with the Gardiners getting the title of Lord of the Manor and thus able to establish laws for the island.

After it was decided that the British rather than Dutch would rule Long Island and that it would be part of New York rather than Connecticut a new patent was issued to Gardiner’s son David Gardiner on October 5 1665 by Governor Richard Nicolls.

In 1688 when Governor Donegan granted the patent formally establishing the East Hampton government, there was an attempt to annex it to East Hampton. However the Gardiners resisted and the governor reaffirmed its special status.. The island’s special status was to continue until after the American Revolution when it was formally annexed to East Hampton.

Gardiner established a plantation on the island for growing corn, wheat, fruit, and tobacco, as well for raising livestock.

The whole article is worth reading.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 12, 2009 05:11 PM | Send

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