Tyler, Royall

Tyler, Royall,

1757–1826, American jurist, author, and playwright, b. Boston, grad. Harvard, 1776. He served in the colonial army during the American Revolution and later in the suppression of Shays's Rebellion. Tyler was admitted to the bar in 1780; he practiced law in Maine, later in Massachusetts, and after 1790 in Vermont, where he was (1807–13) chief justice of the supreme court and professor of jurisprudence (1811–14) at the Univ. of Vermont. He is remembered for his play The Contrast (1787), which was the first American comedy produced by a professional company. He also wrote other plays and a novel, the Algerine Captive (1797). With Joseph Dennie he wrote witty Federalist verse and essays for the New Hampshire Journal.


See his Four Plays (ed. by A. W. Peach and G. F. Newbrough, 1941).

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Tyler, Royall

(1757–1826) lawyer, judge, playwright; born in Boston, Mass. After reading law, he served in the American Revolution and then took up the practice of law, first in Portland, Maine (1780–85) and then in Boston (1785–91). He volunteered for service in the force that quelled Shays Rebellion in 1787, the very year that his comedy, The Contrast, became the first professionally produced play (in New York City) by an American. It included a character, Jonathan, the first of many similar no-nonsense Yankees who would appear on stage. His comic opera, May Day in Town, was also produced in New York in 1787, and he wrote several other plays, some of them now lost. In 1791 he moved to Vermont where he eventually served as the state's chief justice (1807–13) and was also a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Vermont (1811–14). Meanwhile, he continued his literary career. Under the pen name of Spondee, he collaborated with Joseph Dennie to write satirical prose and verse for several publications. He also published one novel, The Algerine Captive (1797).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.