John Uri Lloyd was born on April 19, 1849 in North Bloomfield, Ontario County, New York, United States, the eldest in a family of four sons of Nelson Marvin and Sophia (Webster) Lloyd. His great-great-grandfather John Lloyd had come from Wales and settled in America about 1770; the Webster lineage can be traced to Governor John Webster of Connecticut, one of the original settlers of Hartford. Lloyd's parents, both of them graduates of Lima College, Lima, New York, were teachers. His father was also a mathematician and a surveyor. In 1853 he contracted to survey for a bridge across the Ohio River and eventually brought his family to Petersburg, Kentucky. Stranded in this river town when the financial panic halted the enterprise, the Lloyds opened a one-room school in their home and taught subsequently in Burlington and Florence, Kentucky. Mrs. Lloyd in her spare time wrote short stories and verse for literary and religious magazines.