John Tyler’s Family Life and Descendants

The tenth president of the United States of America, John Tyler, was born on March 29, 1790, to a wealthy plantation and slave owner, John Tyler Sr., who was also a prominent politician in Virginia and his mother, Mary Marot Armistead. He had eight siblings who all received the best education available at that time.

John Tyler Sr. was commonly known as Judge Tyler was a close friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson. He served in various government positions such as governor, Speaker of House of Delegates as well as U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia.

Meanwhile, Mary Armistead was the child of Robert Booth Armistead, a prominent plantation owner. She died when John was only seven years old due to stroke.

His father raised him together with his two brothers and five sisters on the Greenway Plantation. They had approximately forty slaves who grew crops such as tobacco, wheat, and corn.

Letitia Christian Tyler

On November 12, 1790, Letitia Christian was born at the Cedar Grove plantation in New Kent County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Mary Brown and Colonel Robert Christian, who owns a bountiful estate. Described as timid, pious, and quiet; she was selfless and devoted to her husband, John Tyler, who had an ambitious political goal, and her beloved children.

Letitia met John Tyler, who was then a law student in 1808. Their restrained courtship lasted for five years. The couple was married on John’s 23rd birthday, and they shared their first kiss on their wedding day. In 29 years of marriage, they appear to be happy with each other.

The couple had three sons and four daughters: Mary, Robert, John Tyler III, Letitia, Elizabeth, Alice, and Tazewell.

She preferred household chores and duties than to be in the limelight since her husband starts a name for himself in terms of politics. Letitia stayed in Virginia to tend on the plantation and their home, and she rarely visits Washington.

At the age of 51, Letitia died in the White House on September 10, 1842, after she suffered a stroke. Her remains were in Virginia.

Mary Tyler-Jones

Mary was born on April 15, 1815, to Letitia and John Tyler on Cedar Grove, New Kent County, Virginia. She was the eldest daughter of the tenth president of the United States of America. In 1835, she married a wealthy Tidewater planter, Henry Lightfoot Jones. Mary gave birth to two sons, John Tyler Jones and Robert Tyler Jones. She died on June 17, 1847, at the age of 32.

Robert Tyler

Born on September 9, 1816, Robert Tyler was the eldest son of John Tyler and Letitia Christian in Charles City County, Virginia. He worked as his father’s secretary during his presidential term. Robert married Priscilla Cooper, who served as the White House Hostess because of his mother’s death. During the Civil War, he served as a Confederate Official in the Confederate Register of Treasury. Later on, he moved to Alabama and became an editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. He died at the age of 61 on December 3, 1877.

John Tyler, Jr.

portrait of John Tyler

John was born on April 27, 1819, in Charles City County, Virginia. Together with his brother Robert, they served as their father’s secretary during his presidency. He served as a captain of Virginia infantry during the Mexican War and was a colonel in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. He died on January 26, 1896.

Letitia Tyler-Semple

Letitia was born on May 11, 1821, in Providence Forge in New Kent County, Virginia. She married James Semple, who was appointed by her father as a purser in the U.S. Navy in 1839. Letitia was an educator by profession. She had an unhappy marriage, which led her to leave her husband to open her school, the Eclectic Institute in Baltimore. She acted as White House hostess in 1844 since her mother died, and her sister-in-law, Priscilla, moved away.

Elizabeth Tyler Waller

Elizabeth was born on July 1, 1823. She married William N. Waller and had a White House wedding in 1842. She died on June 1, 1850, when she was only 26 due to childbirth.

Anna Contesse Tyler

She was born on April 5, 1825, and died in July of the same year.

Alice Tyler Denison

Born on March 23, 1828, in Greenway in Charles City County, Virginia, she was the second youngest child of John Tyler to his first wife, Letitia Christian. She married Reverend Henry Denison in 1850. Her husband was an Episcopal rector in Williamsburg. Her untimely death on June 8, 1854, in Kentucky was due to colic.

Tazewell Tyler

Tazewell was the youngest child of John Tyler to his first wife, Letitia. He was a doctor and a surgeon by profession. Tazewell served as a doctor in the Confederate Army. He was married to Nannie Bridges and had two children. He suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome due to a carnage he witnessed as a surgeon during the Civil War and turned to alcohol. His wife divorced him because of it. He died on January 8, 1874, at the age of 43.

Julia Gardiner Tyler

Portrait of Julia Gardiner

On May 4, 1820, Julia Gardiner was born in New York. She was the daughter of David Gardiner, who owned vast lands and was also a New York State senator. She attended the Chegary Institute in New York.

At the age of 21, an acquaintance introduced her to the widow, President John Tyler, on January 20, 1842, in a White House reception. They had a secret engagement in 1844 at the George Washington ball. Tragedy struck, her father untimely died during an excursion due to an explosion of a naval gun called the Peacemaker. She confided to John Tyler and was married later on. John had seven children with her. They were David, who was a lawyer and a public official, Alex, who was an engineer, Julia, Lachlan, Lyon, Robert, and Margaret.

After her husband’s presidency, they returned to John Tyler’s inherited property from his father. He called it the Sherwood Forest.

Ironically, Julia suffered a stroke, which took her life on July 10, 1889, at the age of 69. 27 years later, John died at the Exchange Hotel, where she passed away. They were buried alongside each other at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

As of 2018, John Tyler had two living descendants from his son, Lyon, who married his second wife in his later years.