What are the odds of someone being born in the 18th century having grandchildren – yes, GRANDCHILDREN – who are alive in the 21st century? Pretty infinitesimal most people would say and they would be right. But a confluence of factors resulted in just such a thing happening with none other than the tenth president of the United States – John Tyler!

John Tyler was born in 1790 and has grand-children who are still living today, 222 years after the birth of their grand-father!

Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison who died after 32 days in office from pneumonia. He was born at a time when Napoleon Bonaparte was busy conquering Europe! To offer further context to historical events that occurred around the time Tyler was born consider that these events were occurring: in the year he was born, George Washington was sworn in as president for the first time, Thomas Jefferson was the first secretary of state, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in 1793, mutineers from the Bounty were settling in Pitcairn Island and Tipu Sultan was at the height of his power and the British under Cornwallis were waging war to defeat him.

John Tyler – 10th president of the US

So how did it come about that Tyler has grandchildren living well over two centuries after his birth? Tyler married Julia Gardiner – his second wife – in 1820. She was then 24 years old and thirty years his junior.

Julia Gardiner – wife of John Tyler and First Lady

She gave birth in 1853 (when Tyler was 63 years old) to a son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler. This son, Lyon, in turn, married two times – his second wife Sue Ruffin was born in 1889 – and he married her in 1923 when he was 70 years old and she was in her thirties .

Sue Ruffin Tyler gave birth to two sons – Lyon Gardiner Tyler in 1925 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 1928. These are the grandsons of former president John Tyler and they are both in their eighties today!!

Grandson Harrison Tyler – 10th president of the US


Grandson Lyon Tyler

Truly remarkable and difficult to imagine that grand-children could be alive 222 years after the birth of their grandfather but it happened because of a confluence of factors – the former president having a son when he was in his sixties and that son then fathering his children when he was in his seventies!

This family tree gives a pictorial illustration of the relationships:

(Images – courtesy of the Daily Mail)

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2 Responses to “More presidential trivia – but a truly remarkable fact”

  1. Saira says:

    despite this being “political” in nature and my usual aversion to such posts, this one was an interesting one papa 🙂

  2. TJ says:

    Saira, you should show this to DJ – and if he tells his friends they will be duly impressed with the depth of his knowledge of US history! 🙂

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