John Tyler Sr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia
In office
January 7, 1811 – January 6, 1813
Appointed byJames Madison
Preceded byCyrus Griffin
Succeeded bySt. George Tucker
15th Governor of Virginia
In office
December 1, 1808 – January 15, 1811
Preceded byWilliam H. Cabell
Succeeded byJames Monroe
Personal details
John Tyler

(1747-02-28)February 28, 1747
York County, Virginia, British America
DiedJanuary 6, 1813(1813-01-06) (aged 65)
Charles City County, Virginia, United States
Spouse(s)Mary Marot Armistead (m. 1777; death 1797)
  • Martha
  • John
  • Christiana
  • John Tyler II (father)
  • Anne Contesse (mother)
EducationCollege of William & Mary
read law

John Tyler Sr. (February 28, 1747 – January 6, 1813) was an American planter, 15th Governor of Virginia, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia and the father of President John Tyler.

Early life and education

Born on February 28, 1747, in York County, Colony of Virginia, British America,[1] Tyler attended the College of William & Mary and read law with Robert Carter Nicholas Sr.[1][2]


Like his father, Tyler was a planter and operated his plantations using enslaved labor. In the 1787 Virginia tax census, he owned 20 enslaved adults and 14 enslaved children, as well as 12 horses and 75 cattle in Charles City County, Colony of Virginia (State of Virginia).[3]

Following his admission to the Virginia bar, Tyler also had a private legal practice in Charles City County, Colony of Virginia (State of Virginia) from July 4, 1789.[1]

Tyler served in the Continental Army in 1775, during the American Revolutionary War.[1]

Charles City County voters elected him one of their representatives to the Virginia House of Delegates from 1778 to 1788, and fellow delegates elected him as their Speaker (1781 to 1784).[1]

In addition to his legislative service, Tyler also served as a Judge of the Virginia High Court of Admiralty from 1776 to 1788.[1] He was a member of the Virginia Council of State (now the Virginia Governor's Council) from 1780 to 1781.[1] Legislators elected Tyler a Judge of the General Court of Virginia starting in 1788.[1]

Virginia ratification convention

Charles City County voters elected Tyler as one of their representatives to the Virginia convention that ultimately ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. During that convocation, fellow delegates elected Tyler the convention's Vice-President.[1] In the debates over ratification of the United States Constitution, Tyler was an Anti-Federalist, voting against the document at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788. He explained his opposition stating, "It has been often observed ... that liberty ought not to be given up without knowing the terms. The gentlemen themselves cannot agree in the construction of various clauses of [the Constitution]; and so long as this is the case, so long shall liberty be in danger."[4]

Legislators elected Tyler the 15th Governor of Virginia from 1808 to 1811.[1]

Federal judicial service

President James Madison on January 2, 1811, appointed Tyler to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Virginia vacated by Judge Cyrus Griffin.[1] The United States Senate confirmed the appointment on January 3, 1811, and Tyler received his commission on January 7, 1811.[1]

Death and legacy

Tyler died on January 6, 1813 at Greenway Plantation in Charles City County.[1][2]

Tyler County, West Virginia is named in Tyler's honor.[5]


Tyler married Mary Marot Armistead (1761–1797) in 1777.[2] They were the parents of eight children, including future President John Tyler.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m John Tyler at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d "A Guide to the Governor John Tyler Executive Papers, 1808-1811 Tyler, John, Executive Papers of Governor, 1808-1811 41223".
  3. ^ Netti Schreiner-yantia and Florena Speakman LOve, The 1787 Census of Virginia (Genealogical Books in Print, Springfield, Virginia19787) p. 10150
  4. ^ "Energetic Government: John Tyler, Virginia Ratifying Convention".
  5. ^ "Tyler County history sources". 2013-05-29. Archived from the original on 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2021-07-13.


Archival records
Political offices Preceded byWilliam H. Cabell 15th Governor of Virginia 1808–1811 Succeeded byJames Monroe Legal offices Preceded byCyrus Griffin Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia 1811–1813 Succeeded bySt. George Tucker