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Rylands of Warrington

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Surname/tag: Rylands, Warrington
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As far back as the 13th Century the Rylands held lands in Westhoughton Lancashire, which towards the end of the 15th Century became the property of Cokersand Abbey. The family who were minor gentry and Yeomen. They spread from Westhoughton to Culcheth, Risley, Wigan and Warrington manufacturing linen, sail cloth then wire. The earliest known manufacturers were John Rylands b1619 and his brother William who employed weavers in Culcheth to manufacture for the Manchester market. Peter Rylands 1665-1773, grandson of John, moved the business to Wigan and his son John 1734-1815 started manufacture of sail cloth in Warrington. Georgian Warrington benefited from the growth of Liverpool and was well known for its sailcloth. It was said that Warrington supplied almost half of the Navy of Great Britain. He and his son John 1771-1848 were contractors to the Admiralty.[1]

Ryland brothers was founded in 1805 when Nathaniel Greening, who had wire drawing experience joined John Rylands who had returned to Warrington with the aim of setting up a wire mill. The partnership was dissolved in 1840, spawning Greening and Sons and Ryland Brothers. The business later passed to his three sons John, Thomas Glazebrook and Peter in 1843. They were instrumental in growing the manufacturing base. [2]

In 1868 it became a private limited company, Rylands Brothers Limited.[3]

The 3 brothers along with Henry Bleckly established an iron works at Bewsey, Warrington which in 1874 amalgamated its Dallam Forge Co and Wigan Collieries to become The Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co Ltd [2]

By 1891 the Rylands Brothers Ltd Church Street operation in the centre of Warrington had 29 separate metal processing departments and covered an area of over 23000m2 making many types of wire including telecommunications wire and barbed wire.[4] The site is now a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

The brothers had differing interests John Rylands had interests in music, painting and literature, Peters interests were politics and also had career in the House of Commons as a radical economist and subsequently a liberal unionist. Whereas Thomas Glazebrook was a philanthropist and supporter of causes like abolition of slavery. All three had a desire to improve the condition of the working classes. [2]

There is a stained glass window inside the church of All Saints Thelwall dedicated to William Peter Rylands. There is another window dedicated to Peter Rylands.

Research Notes

Not to be confused with John Rylands of Manchester 1801-1888 a Manchester Textile millionaire who founded Rylands and sons and whose wife Enriqueta Augustina Rylands founded the John Rylands Library in his memory.


  1. https://www.ancestry.com.au/boards/surnames.ryland/37/mb.ashx
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A memoir of Thomas Glazebrook Rylands of Highfield, Thelwall, Cheshire by Radcliffe, Richard Duncan
  3. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Rylands_Brothers:1935_Review 1935 Review Graces Guide
  4. Copper Wire and Electrical Conductors: The Shaping of a Technology By Barrie Charles Blake-Coleman.

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