‘John Tyler, America’s Tenth President, Was Born in 1790. He Has A Living Grandson’

On November 11 2021, Reddit user u/thenewyorkgod shared a screenshot of a tweet claiming that America’s tenth president John Tyler, born in 1790, had a living grandson as of late 2021:

No date was visible on the Twitter screenshot, but the tweet was published on November 9 2021:

Fact Check

Claim: "John Tyler, America’s tenth president, was born in 1790. He has a living grandson. Yes, a grandson."

Description: A tweet from November 2021 claimed that John Tyler, America’s tenth president who was born in 1790, had a living grandson at the time. The tweet stated that despite the unusual extended intervales between generations, this was indeed the case.

Rating: True

Rating Explanation: Extensive evidence was provided in the article which validated the claim, including the documented births of Tyler’s family members and even recent deaths.

Text of the tweet read:

John Tyler, America’s tenth president, was born in 1790. He has a living grandson.

Yes, a grandson.

Although the tweet primarily hinged on the surprising element of the claim (that President Tyler’s grandson was purportedly alive in 2021), it also mentioned Tyler’s year of birth (1790) and that he was the tenth president. An entry on WhiteHouse.gov (“John Tyler[,] The 10th President of the United States”) validated those details:

President of the United States (1841-1845) when President William Henry Harrison died in April 1841. He was the first Vice President to succeed to the Presidency after the death of his predecessor.

Dubbed “His Accidency” by his detractors, John Tyler was the first Vice President to be elevated to the office of President by the death of his predecessor.

Born in Virginia in 1790, he was raised believing that the Constitution must be strictly construed. He never wavered from this conviction. He attended the College of William and Mary and studied law.

On Reddit, submitter u/thenewyorkgod added a comment to their post with detail about Tyler’s family tree:

1. John Tyler was 63 when his son Lyon was born (1853).

2. Lyon was 75 when his son Harrison was born (1928).

3. Today is Harrison’s 93rd birthday.

On October 6 2020, SmithsonianMag.com published “Grandson of President John Tyler, Who Left Office in 1845, Dies at Age 95,” reporting:

In a reminder of just how young the United States is as a country, Mental Floss’ Michele Debczak reports that Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., grandson of tenth president John Tyler, died on September 26 [2020] at age 95. Lyon’s brother Harrison Ruffin Tyler—born in 1928—is still living.

John Tyler was born in 1790, just 14 years after the nation’s founding. He became president in 1841, after William Henry Harrison died in office, and served until 1845. His son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born in 1853 (a full 12 years before the 13th Amendment abolished slavery), when John was 63. Lyon Gardiner Sr., in turn, was in his 70s when Lyon Gardiner Jr. and Harrison Ruffin were born.

Speaking with CBS News’ Chip Reid in 2018, Harrison Ruffin’s son William said many people are surprised by his close family connection to a president born in the 18th century.

“I find it hard to believe,” he said. “I think it had to do with second wives.”

That article indicated that one of Tyler’s grandsons, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., died in September 2020 at the age of 95. It further noted that President John Tyler was 63 when his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born in 1852, and that the younger Tyler was “in his seventies” when his two sons were born.

Harrison Ruffin Tyler was the subject of a Wikipedia entry, where his birth year was listed as 1928:

Harrison Ruffin Tyler Sr. (born November 1928) is an American chemical engineer, businessperson, and preservationist. Tyler cofounded ChemTreat, Inc., a water treatment company in 1968 and restored the Sherwood Forest Plantation. He is a son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler as well as a grandson of former U.S. president John Tyler, and speaks on the history of the Tyler family. Tyler purchased Fort Pocahontas in 1996 and advocates for its preservation.

Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in November 1928 to Susan Ruffin and Lyon Gardiner Tyler. His paternal grandparents were Julia Gardiner and John Tyler. Through his mother, he is a great-grandson of Edmund Ruffin, and a descendant of Benjamin Harrison IV, Robert Carter I and Pocahontas. She was a teacher and caretaker of the family’s historical documents. Despite his familial connections, Tyler grew up poor.

Given that the claim circulated in November 2021, the month of Harrison Ruffin Tyler’s birth, his age was estimated at 92 or 93. The entry added that John Tyler was “the earliest former President of the United States with living grandchildren.”

In November 2021, a tweet claimed that John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States, was born in 1790 — and had a still-living grandson. Tyler’s atypically long intergenerational pauses were well documented, and the death of one of his two living grandsons made headlines in October 2020. Harrison Ruffin Tyler, the younger of the two, was born in November 1928 and was 92 or 93 at the time the tweet was shared.