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John Rylands of Rylands and Sons (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.
After having learned to weave, John 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. In partnership with his two elder brothers he expanded into the wholesale trade, and in 1819, Rylands' father merged his retail business with theirs, creating the firm of Rylands & Sons. At its peak, the company employed a workforce of 15,000 in 17 mills and factories, producing 35 tons of cloth a day.
The above information is condensed from the Wikipedia entry.
Note: Manchester's impressive John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her husband, John Rylands . Construction started in 1890 and the library was formally opened in 1899.