McTyeire was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, and earned a B.A. from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, in 1844. Having been granted a license to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, he ministered in both Virginia and Alabama before settling in Nashville, Tennessee, where he served as the editor of the Christian Advocate, a weekly newspaper owned by the Church. He spent the duration of the Civil War in Alabama, caring for refugees and rural communities before returning to Nashville, where he was elected as a bishop of the Southern Methodist Church. Aware of the lack of ministerial training and education in the South, McTyeire spearheaded the chartering of the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1873, which was renamed Vanderbilt University in 1877. To support the new university, McTyeire acquired a $500,000 endowment from Cornelius Vanderbilt, which was later increased to $1 million. The endowment gave McTyeire unrivalled influence in the university’s affairs, as it was predicated on the bishop’s life appointment as chairman of the Board of Trustees, with veto power. Bishop McTyeire selected the site for the new campus, oversaw the construction of its first buildings, and personally planted many of the campus’ trees. He died at the age of 64 and was interred on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Divinity School.