JOHN RYLANDS (1801-1888), English manufacturer and merchant, was born at St Helens, Lancashire, on the 7th of February 1801, and was educated at the grammar school in that town. In 1819 he, his elder brothers and his father, a manufacturer of cotton goods, founded the firm of Rylands & Sons, cotton goods and linen manufacturers, at Wigan. The business rapidly increased, dye-works and bleach-works were added, and the discovery of coal under some of the firm's property added materially to its wealth. In 1825 the partners became merchants as well as manufacturers, and subsequently acquired spinning mills at Bolton and elsewhere. In 1847, his father being dead and his brothers having retired, John Rylands assumed entire control of the business, which in 1873 was turned into a limited liability company. It has mills at Manchester, Bolton, and Wigan, and is now probably the largest concern of the kind in Great Britain. John Rylands was a benefactor to various charities, and was one of the original financiers of the Manchester Ship Canal. He died at Stretford on the 11th of December 1888. A permanent memorial, the John Rylands Library, was erected by his widow in Manchester in 1899.
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