Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry continues her series on descendants of the Jamestown settlers, focusing on the lineage of genealogist, historian, prominent lawyer, and educator, Dr. Lyon Gardiner Tyler and his first wife Annie Baker Tucker. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Today I continue with my “Jamestown Descendants: Who’s Who” series with a focus on the lineage of genealogist, historian, prominent lawyer, and educator, Dr. Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935) and his first wife Annie Baker Tucker (1855-1921), who together descend from Jamestown’s Nicholas Meriweather, William Randolph, John Bolling, John Lightfoot, Charles Anderson, John Taylor, John Bland, Robert Booth, Frances Burgess, John Page, James Bray, William Armistead, Anne Ellis, Robert Ellyson, John Gorsuch, Walter Chiles, John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas, John Stith, Joseph Royall, and James Bray. (See the link following this article for the full lineage.)
Dr. Tyler was born to John Tyler (10th president of the United States) and his second wife Julia Gardiner (born on Gardiner’s Island to New York Senator David Gardiner and Juliana MacLachlan, and the 8th generational descendant of Lion Gardner (“1st Lord of Gardiner’s Island”).
When Tyler died in 1935, several newspapers published memorials. One was the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who noted the many societies Tyler was active in including the Sons of the American Revolution, American Philosophical Society, and the Society for the Preservation of Virginia.
Among Tyler’s great accomplishments was his role as the 17th president of William and Mary College, in which he rescued the college’s financial deficits and “raised William and Mary from the dust and restored its place among the foremost institutions of learning in the country.”
In addition, “he affected many reforms at Williamsburg. One of the most important was that of co-education, the admission of women” to the college in 1918.
He also served as chair of the History Department when William and Mary reopened after the Civil War in 1888, and was one of the instructors known as the “Seven Wise Men.”
Most importantly, the news clip described Tyler’s contribution to genealogy research. It reported:
Besides his educational work, Dr. Tyler accomplished much in the field of historical and genealogical research. He was probably the first man in Virginia to make a regular study of county court records by personal visits to the clerks’ offices in all parts of Eastern Virginia.
In 1895 he persuaded the Legislature to appropriate $5,000 [about $177,000 today] to start copying the early records of the county courts. This resulted in the addition to the State Library of 75 volumes containing records of the oldest counties in the Commonwealth – a veritable treasure house of facts relating to Colonial Virginia.
Dr. Tyler was regarded as an authority on the antiquities of the Old Dominion, was considered almost without a rival, and his opinion in such matters was widely sought.
In 1892, Dr. Tyler began publication of “The William and Mary Quarterly,” the first strictly historical magazine published in Virginia. In its columns he put on record many facts relating to the college history, the history of the State, and the history of the country.
When he resigned from William and Mary College, he continued the quarterly magazine under the title “Tyler’s Quarterly.” You can access all of Tyler’s publications on the Online Books Page.
Tyler’s wife Annie Tucker (born to Lt. Col. St. George Hunter Tucker and Elizabeth Anderson Gilmer) has an interesting lineage. Her father was a lawyer, congressman, and judge, and he started Ashland Male Academy. He authored “Hansford: A Tale of Bacon’s Rebellion.” Her grandfather Thomas Walker Gilmer was Governor of Virginia and Secretary of the Navy.
I found a write up in the Boston Record American newspaper on the Tucker line who “were particularly successful in America and are noted for their great contribution to the social and political life of the country.”
According to this article, the Tucker name has several distinct origins, and derives from the Old English word “tucian,” meaning to “tuck, to fill.” It was also used as a name for courage, and other references suggest that a “tucker” was one who cleaned and thickened cloth.
Annie’s great grandfather is mentioned as follows:
Saint George Tucker, American jurist and writer, was born on the island of Bermuda in the year 1752. He settled in Virginia and married Mrs. Randolph [Frances Bland], mother of the celebrated John Randolph, in 1778. Saint George Tucker became a judge of the district court of the United States.
The chief location of the more famous Tuckers in England was Devonshire. They were involved with Sir Francis Drake, Captain [John] Hawkins, and Sir Walter R[a]leigh. [Thomas Tucker was part of Lord Henry Seymor’s fleet.] It was from Plymouth that English ship sailed for the attack on the Armada, in which the Tuckers took part. It was from Plymouth that Daniel Tucker set sail for America [he landed in Virginia].
What piqued my interest in choosing Dr. Tyler (and his wife) as a subject were their involvement in the Order of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe (O. K. G. H) which was revived in 1916.
I covered some of the details of the original O. K. G. H. formed in 1716 by Governor Alexander Spotswood and John Fontaine in my “Jamestown Descendants: Who’s Who, Part 15.”
I compiled a list of the original knights at Americana-Archives.
Dr. Tyler was among the founders of the revived O. K. G. H. in 1916, as detailed in this Sun newspaper article.
This article reported:
The order of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe was revived April 15, 1916, at the Octavia, the residence of Dr. Joseph G. B. Bulloch, on the Columbian Road, Washington, D. C. Its purpose is historical. Only those are eligible whose ancestors performed service, military or civic, of the highest degree in the Colonies. The personal qualifications of the eligible descendants must also measure up to standards specified in the constitution. The following persons were elected officers of the order:
President-general Thomas C. Washington, Washington; first vice-president-general Dr. Lyon G. Tyler of William and Mary College, Virginia; second vice-president-general Harvey C. Thomas, Baltimore; third vice-president-general Dr. J. G. B. Bulloch, Washington; provost-general Francis B. Culver, Baltimore; registrar-general Mrs. Harvey C. Thomas, Baltimore; deputy provost-general Daniel Smith Gordon, Washington; treasurer-general Miss Virginia Fairfax Gordon, Washington; keeper of the seal, Miss Emma H. Bulloch, Washington; knight bearer of the sword Dr. Arthur Adams, Hartford, Conn.; and herald marshal-general Francis John Taliaferro Brooke, Charlestown, W. VA.
The O. K. G. H. is still active today.
To be continued…
Note on the header image: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, American historian and president of William and Mary College. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
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