John Rylands

John Rylands (7 February 1801 – 11 December 1888) was an English entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was the owner of the largest textile manufacturing concern in the United Kingdom, and Manchester's first multi-millionaire.

After having learned to weave, Rylands became a small-scale manufacturer of hand-looms, while also working in the draper's shop which his father had opened in St Helens. He displayed a "precocious shrewdness" for retailing,[1] and in partnership with his two elder brothers expanded into the wholesale trade. So successful were they that, in 1819, Rylands' father merged his retail business with theirs, creating the firm of Rylands & Sons.[1] At its peak, the company employed a workforce of 15,000 in 17 mills and factories, producing 35 tons of cloth a day.

Rylands was the third son of Joseph Rylands, a manufacturer of cotton goods, of St Helens, Lancashire, and his wife Elizabeth (née Pilkington). He was educated at St Helens Grammar School.

His aptitude for trade quickly became obvious and manifested itself early and, before the age of eighteen, he entered into partnership with his elder brothers Joseph and Richard. Their father joined them in 1819, when the firm of Rylands & Sons was established, the seat of operations being established in Wigan. Their manufactures for some years consisted of ginghams, checks, ticks, dowlases, calicoes and linens.

John, the youngest partner, occupied himself with travelling over several counties for orders until 1823, when he opened a warehouse for the firm in Manchester. Business increased rapidly, and in the course of a few years extensive properties at Wigan, along with dye works and bleach works, were purchased. Valuable seams of coal were afterwards discovered under these properties, and proved a great source of wealth to the purchasers.[2]

In 1825 the firm became merchants as well as manufacturers, and about the same time they erected a new spinning mill. The Ainsworth mills, near Bolton, and other factories were subsequently acquired.

Joseph and Richard retired around 1839 and the death of their father in July 1847 made John Rylands sole proprietor. The business continued to expand and in 1849 a warehouse was opened in Wood Street, London.

This page was last edited on 13 February 2018, at 21:10 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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