John Clayton, courtesy Lord Staveley, was the son and heir of John Clayton, 5th Duke of Greystoke. He married Alice Rutherford, and their son was Tarzan. His ancestry is traced in Tarzan Alive by Philip José Farmer.
Clayton is a major character in the early part of the novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He and his pregnant wife Alice sail to Africa, but following a mutiny aboard ship, they are abandoned on the coast of Africa by the sailor Black Michael. Clayton constructs a home from the copious supplies allowed them, and here their son John Clayton - later, Tarzan - is born. But Alice passes away in her sleep, and Clayton himself is killed by one of the great apes, Mangani, that live in those parts. Their infant child is subsequently brought up by the creatures.
Further information about Clayton's life, not just details of the Greystoke lineage, comes from Tarzan Alive. He is described as the cousin of Rudolf Rassendyll, and a colleague of Colonel Sebastian Moran.
Wold Newton researcher Dennis Power, following the theories propounded by David Vincent, Jr, has revealed evidence that suggests that Clayton had been married once before. The relevant details may be found in three articles:
- Jungle Brothers, or Secrets of the Jungle Lords by David Vincent, Jr.
- "Jungle Brothers, or, Secrets of the Jungle Lords" by Dennis Power, in Myths for the Modern Age, ed. Win Scott Eckert
- "Philip José Farmer and the Case of the Two Jungle Lords" by Dennis Power, in Farmerphile #12
While Clayton was in India in 1883, it appears he made a hasty marriage to Jaya Jjejeebhoy, sister of the Parsee baronet, Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy (presumably the fourth baronet of that name, the former Cowasjee Cursatjee). But Jaya and her son by Clayton were apparently killed in a tiger attack, the child later surfacing as that other celebrated feral child, Mowgli.