Tyler Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Tyler Meaning

Tyler’s origins are occupational, from a tiler or maker or layer of tiles.  Tiles were widely used in medieval times for floors and pavements, although they weren’t really employed in roofing until the 16th century.

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Tyler Ancestry

Tyler as a surname appears to have emerged in the late 13th and 14th
centuries.  Two early examples of the name were:

  • Geoffray and Ralph Tylere, who were recorded in
    Huntingdonshire in 1272 (they were tenants of the Abbot of Sawtry)
  • and Wat
    , the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
    Historians believe that he came from Essex and that he crossed the
    Thames to lead the revolt in Kent.

Kent  Much of
northeast Kent was involved in Wat Tyler’s revolt of
1381.  But there is nothing to connect Wat Tyler with any more
recent Tylers in that area.  Tylers in Edenbridge and the
surrounding area can be traced to the early 1600’s.  One family
line began with a Thomas Tyler, born there around 1715.  Captain
Peter Tyler who fought with the army in Ireland married into the local
gentry at Lynsted near Sittingbourne.  His son Admiral Sir Charles
Tyler commanded with Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805.

Another cluster of Tylers was to be found in the west country, in
Gloucestershire.  The early Tyler wills
there showed Tylers in the Forest of Dean, in Tytherington near
Ichington, and
in villages in and around Thornbury north of Bristol.  These
Tylers were recorded as yeomen farmers, clothiers, weavers, and
tanners.  A Richard Tyler ran the ironworks in the Forest of Dean
for a period in the 1630’s.

Moses and Mary Tyler lived at Mill farm, Tytherington in the late
1700’s.  A Tyler family of masons in Tidenham dates from this time
as well.

“A stone set in the west wall of
Tidenham churchyard recorded the building of the wall by William Tyler
in 1787.  A local legend has it that the stone marked the grave of
a witch.”

And there were a number of Tyler trades people in the Bristol area by
the early 1800’s.

The 19th century
of the Tyler name still reflected this
east/west division.  Tylers were first in the southeast, around
London, Kent and Essex; and then in the west, around Gloucestershire
and Worcestershire.

America had two early and notable Tyler arrivals, one into
Massachusetts and the other into Virginia.  Some have maintained
that these two Tylers were related.  But there is no evidence that
this was the case.

New England
Job Tyler
came to New England in 1640 with his wife Mary and
settled in
Andover, Massachusetts.  They had four sons, Moses, Hopestill,
John and Samuel, from whom has come a large number of
descendants.  Moses’ line included Daniel Tyler the Mormon and
Moses Coit Tyler the historian.

Hopestill’s wife and daughter got
caught up in the
Salem witch trials
.  His line subsequently went via
eastern Connecticut to Daniel Tyler, the iron manufacturer, railroad
president, and one of the first generals of the Civil War.  John’s
line, meanwhile, eventually migrated to Ohio.  Willard Brigham’s
1912 book The Tyler Genealogy
traced the
various descendants.

Virginia  The
other Tyler line began in Virginia with Henry Tyler from
Shropshire.  He had
arrived in 1652 and was a planter in York county in the outskirts of
what is now Williamsburgh.  His
descendants later moved to James City and then to Charles City where
Judge John Tyler erected his Greenway plantation in 1776 (the house
there still

It was his son John Tyler, born in Greenway, who became
by accident the tenth
President of the United States, following the death of President
Harrison in 1841.  John Tyler’s descendants are
numerous.  He had two wives and fifteen children.

Maryland  There
were also Tyler planters from the 1670’s in Maryland with Robert
and his Brough plantation on the Patutext river and from the 1750’s in
North Carolina with Moses Tyler and his plantation in Bladen
county.  Moses’ son was a drummer boy in the Revolutionary
War.  Later Tylers moved onto Mississippi.

Australia.  Three early
Tylers in Australia were from Gloucestershire.  John William Tyler
had come from Bristol to South Australia in 1845 and was one of the
first settlers at Burra, northeast of Port Augusta.

“John is understood to have been the
first Australian farmer to import machinery from America for boring for
water.  He in fact visited California to see the plant at work and
to order the machinery.”

John and Charlotte Tyler also came to South Australia, arriving there
on the Isabella Hercus in
1849. Meanwhile, Matthew Tyler and his family had
got to Sydney in 1838.  These Tylers had been sponsored
to emigrate to Australia by their local Bisley parish in

Richard Tyler came to Western Australia with his family in 1886.
His family has been cropping wheat in Korrelocking, WA for close on a
hundred years.


Tyler Miscellany

Tyler Surname Origins.  Tyler’s earliest appearance, in the late 12th century, appears to have
been French in origin, an import therefore of the Normans.
However, the French form does not seem to have survived and it was
displaced by the Tyler from the Old English tigel leah. Tyler’s Historical and Genealogical

gave the following analysis of the surname’s origin.

“Mark Antony Lower stated in his Patronymica Britannica that the
surname of Tyler or Tiler was derived from the occupation of the first
man in England to whom this surname became applied.  The learned
etymologists, however, tell us neither when nor where in England the
surname originated, nor who were the first to be known by that surname.

These points are determinable.  One may note that Lower declared
that the surname of Tileman (Tillman) originated from exactly the same
causes as did the surname of Tyler; also, that he described “Tylor” as
a “genteel form of Tyler.”  Bardsley, the more recent etymologist,
agreed with Lower that the first Tyler was a tiler, a maker or layer of
bricks, “one who bakes clay into tiles,” he further averred.  Also
he agreed with Skeats, author of an etymological dictionary, that the
word tiler is from the Anglo Saxon tigele
which antedates all British surnames.  The Latin form is tegula, from tegere, meaning “to cover.”
Henry Harrison, the most scholarly of the etymologists, agreed with
those predecessors and added that “tylee” or “tiley” was a dweller at a
tile field and derived from the Old English tigel leah.

An inquiry in England in 1272 showed that there were five adult males surnamed Tyler at a place called Sawtry near Huntingdon.’ Thus Galfridus (otherwise Geoffray) le Tylere and Radulphus (otherwise Ralph) de Tilere with another were cottars, tenants of three cottages
each with a few acres of land rented to them by the Abbot of Sawtry who
was the resident ecclesiastical lord of the district and the
representative of the monastery of Great Sawtry.’  Sawtry was upon the old Roman road from London to York, about eight miles north of the shire town of Huntingdon.  The earth is flat in that region and clay abounds in vast quantities.  Ely Cathedral was the mother church of the first Tylers.”

Wat Tyler and the Peasants’ Revolt.  Little is known of Wat Tyler with the exception of his fame as
the leader of the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.  He was said
to be a tiler from Essex who had become involved in the uprising after
a tax collector had assaulted his daughter.  The commons of Kent,
after taking Rochester Castle, chose him as their captain. Under him
moved to Canterbury, Blackheath and then to London.

Tyler’s group had joined another group led by two itinerant
priests named John Ball and Jack Straw and they rose 100,000 strong to
invade London.  The enraged mob burned many houses.  They
broke open every prison and beheaded every judge and lawyer they could
capture.  Flushed with their success, they went on to take the
Tower of London by force and behead the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Richard II, who was at the time only fourteen years of age,
bravely emerged to meet with Wat Tyler at Smithfield.  Tyler
advanced in front of his strong force to speak with him and he showed
no deference.  This angered the royal party.  When Tyler
asked for a drink of water and then spat it out, the King told William
Walworth, the mayor of London, to “set hands on him.”  Tyler was
stabbed through the throat with a short sword and, as he lay writhing
in agony on the ground after falling off his horse, was stabbed through
the belly.

Walworth was a fish dealer as well as the Lord Mayor of
London and he donated the dagger with which he had killed Tyler to the
Fishmongers guild.  The dagger is still to be found in Fishmongers
hall in a special glass case.  Nearby there is a life size
Walworth standing with dagger in hand.

Early Tyler Wills in Gloucestershire

1544 John Tyler St. Briavels, near the Forest of
1569 John Tyler Tytherington, near Ichington *
1586 John Tyler Blakeney, in the Forest of Dean
1591 Henry Tyler Thornbury, north of Bristol
1613 John Tyler Frampton Cotterell, north of
1616 William Tyler Alveston, north of Bristol
1638 John Tyler Pucklechurch, north of Bristol

*  This was the first of a number of Tyler wills in Tytherington.

Tyler Surname Distribution in England and Wales.  The Tyler surname has been concentrated around London and
the southeast of England.  The table below shows the distribution from the 1891 census.

County Numbers (000’s) Percent
London     2.0     24%
Essex     0.7      8%
Kent     0.4      5%
Worcestershire     0.5      6%
Gloucestershire     0.4      5%
Elsewhere     4.5     52%
Total England and
    8.5    100%

Reader Feedback – Job Tyler’s Arrival.  Until very recently we thought that Job Tyler first went
to Rhode Island in 1638.  Now, for the first time, we know that
Job left London, along with 161 passengers, bound for Virginia on the Pinnace Globe.  The
ship left London on August 7, 1635 and arrived first at the
Massachusetts Bay colony.  Job’s name appears on the Pinnace Globe’s manifest.

Regards, David Sitomer (tolstoy@erois.com) 

The Tyler Family and the Salem Witch Trials.  In 1692 the Tyler family of Andover found itself both accuser and victim in the witchcraft hysteria centered in Salem village.  During the
hysteria Moses Tyler and Joseph Tyler, the son and grandson of Job Tyler, accused three men and two women of Andover of
witchcraft.   And the two Tyler women caught up in a web of
suspicion were Mary Tyler, wife of Hopestill Tyler, and Johanna
(Hannah) Tyler, their daughter.  Both women, under great pressure,
confessed to the sin of witchcraft.

Their trials took
place in February 1693.  The women pleaded not guilty, recanting
their confessions.  The juries found Mary and Johanna not
guilty of all charges and their long, terrible ordeal was over.

Grandmother Tyler’s Book.  Grandmother Tyler’s Book was undertaken by Mary Tyler in her eighty-third year
at the request of her children and grandchildren.  It
is a series of vivid reminiscences of her girlhood and marriage.
Through the efforts of her descendants, it was finally published in 1925.

earliest stories, dealing with the events of the
Revolution in and around Boston, are interspersed with quotations from
her mother’s memoirs.  Although too young to remember it, Tyler
had been told of her father’s participation in the Boston Tea
Party.  Her mother actually describes her fright when he came home
in his Native American costume.

From the age of nine,
Tyler had admired her father’s friend, Royall Tyler.  She
discloses the story of his disastrous love affair with Abby Adams
(daughter of John Adams), which ended as a consequence of his having
“lived too gay a life.”  When they did marry, the marriage was
kept a secret for a while, owing apparently to the opposition of
Tyler’s mother.

During the time Tyler
was secretly married, pregnant and waiting at home for her husband to
establish a law practice in the wilds of Vermont, she suffered a great
sense of sinfulness and a crisis of faith.  This was resolved
after many months by a dream in which she was chased by wolves to the
edge of a precipice only to be rescued at the last minute by the figure
of Christ.  He encircled her waist with his arm and said, “Lean on
me and I will save you.”

From this time on,
Tyler’s profound
faith sustained her through many trials, including the lingering and
painful cancer which killed her husband and the consequent poverty and
reliance on friends and neighbors to sustain the family.  She
accepted good and bad fortune alike with the comment that all was God’s

President John Tyler and His Descendants.  John Tyler was the most prolific of all American Presidents.  He had fifteen children and two wives.

In 1813, Tyler married Letitia Christian, the daughter of a Virginia
planter.  They had eight children.  She was an invalid when
Tyler became President and made only one public appearance, at her
daughter Elizabeth’s marriage in 1842.  She died in the White
House in September 1842.

A few months later, Tyler began courting 23-year-old Julia Gardiner, a
beautiful and wealthy New Yorker. When they were married in New York
City on June 26, 1844, Tyler became the first President to be wed while
in office.  He was thirty years older than his bride.  As
First Lady, the new Mrs. Tyler captivated Washington with the size and
brilliance of her White House receptions.

John Tyler, like his father and grandfather before him, had studied law
at William and Mary College in Virginia.  His son Lyon Gardiner
Tyler, as its 17th president, built up the college after its dark days
following the Civil War.  The Tyler Family Garden, funded by the
family, is their memorial.  Another family legacy is the Sherwood
Forest plantation, which President Tyler acquired in 1842 and has
remained with the family.

Tylers to Australia.  Matthew Tyler had been a weaver in the
Gloucestershire village of Bisley who had been impacted by the collapse
of the woollen trade in the 1830’s.  He and his wife Mary Ann and
their children were sponsored by the parish to migrate to Australia
under the terms and conditions of the Poor Law Amendment Act.

The Layton, a barque of 513
tons, left Bristol carrying 121 adults and 110 children, touched at the
Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Sydney on 19 January 1838.  The
voyage was rendered horrendous by an outbreak of the measles
immediately after leaving the Bristol Channel which caused the death of
one adult and 68 children, including 17 of the 42 from Bisley.
Two of the Tyler daughters, Martha and Maria, had died on the

The surviving passengers were delayed off Pinchgut Island (Sydney) for
a day and were then accommodated at the Immigrants Barracks at the
corner of Bent and Phillip Streets, Sydney.



Select Tyler Names

  • Wat Tyler was the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.
  • Royall Tyler, the son of a Boston merchant, was a lawyer and, with The Contrast in 1787, America’s first playwright of note.  His wife Mary Tyler wrote the child care manual The Maternal Physician and a memoir Grandmother Tyler’s Book.
  • John Tyler became in 1841 the
    10th President of the United States.
  • Bonnie Tyler, born Gaynor Hopkins, is a popular singer from Wales, with 1980’s hits such as Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Select Tyler Numbers Today

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 21,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).


Select Tyler and Like Surnames   

The various medieval trades and occupations were a source of surnames as John the baker would over time would become known as John Baker.  Some skilled craftsmen – such as chandlers, fletchers and turners – were able to form guilds, protective organizations, and style themselves Worshipful Companies.  These are some of the occupational surnames that you can check out.




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