Open main menu

RYLE, JOHN CHARLES (1816–1900), bishop of Liverpool, eldest son of John Ryle, private banker, of Park House, Macclesfield, M.P. for Macclesfield 1833–7, by Susanna, daughter of Charles Hurt of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was born at Macclesfield on 10 May 1816. He was educated at Eton and the university of Oxford, where his career was unusually distinguished. He was Fell exhibitioner at Christ Church, from which foundation he matriculated on 15 May 1834. He was Craven scholar in 1836, graduated B. A. in 1838, having been placed in the first class in literæ hunaniores in the preceding year, and proceeded M.A. in 1871. He was created D.D. by diploma on 4 May 1880. Ryle left the university with the intention of standing for parliament on the first opportunity, but was deprived of the means of gratifying his ambition by his father's bankruptcy. He accordingly took holy orders (1841-2) and a cure of souls at Exbury, Hampshire. In 1843 he was preferred to the rectory of St. Thomas, Winchester, which he exchanged in the following year for that of Helmingham, Suffolk. The latter living he retained until 1861, when he resigned it for the vicarage of Stradbroke in the same county. The restoration of Stradbroke church was due to his initiative. In 1869 he was made rural dean of Hoxne, and in 1872 honorary canon of Norwich. He was select preacher at Cambridge in 1873 and the following year, and at Oxford from 1874 to 1876, and in 1879 and the following year. In 1880 he was designated dean of Salisbury, and at once (19 April) advanced to the newly created see of Liverpool, which he ably administered until his death on 10 June 1900.

He married thrice: first, on 29 Oct. 1845, Matilda Charlotte Louisa, daughter of John Pemberton Plumptre, of Fredville, Kent; secondly, in March 1850, Jessy, daughter of John Walker of Crawfordton, Dumfriesshire; thirdly, on 24 Oct. 1861, Henrietta, daughter of Lieutenant-colonel William Legh Clowes of Broughton Old Hall, Lancashire. He had issue a daughter by his first wife, and three sons by his second wife, of whom Herbert is now bishop of Exeter.

Ryle belonged to the evangelical school, of which he was one of the strongest and not the least liberal supporters. He possessed an unusual command of pure and nervous English, and was a prolific author of tracts, of which some have been translated into foreign languages. His charges, and not a few of his sermons, are also in print. His most important works are:

  1. 'The Bishop, the Pastor, and the Preacher, in three Biographical Lectures ' (on Latimer, Baxter, and Whitefield), Ipswich, 1854, 8vo; reprinted, with additions, as ' The Priest, the Puritan, and the Preacher,' New York, 1856.
  2. 'Hymns for the Church on Earth' (selected and arranged), London, 1860, 8vo; 5th edit, (enlarged), 1882.
  3. 'Bishops and Clergy of other Days; or, the Lives of two Reformers and three Puritans' (Hooper, Latimer, Ward, Baxter, and Gurnall), London, 1868, 8vo.
  4. 'The Christian Leaders of the Last Century; or, England a Hundred Years ago,' London, 1869, 8vo.
  5. 'Lessons from English Church History: a Lecture,' London, 1871, 8vo.
  6. 'What do we owe to the Reformation?' London, 1877, 8vo.
  7. 'Facts and Men. Being Pages from English Church History between 1553 and 1683,' London, 1882, 8vo.
  8. Principles for Churchmen: a Manual of Positive Statements on doubtful or disputed Points,' London, 1884, 8vo.
  9. 'The Upper Room. Being a Few Truths for the Times,' London, 1888, 8vo.

[Eton School Lists, 'election 1832;' Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Oxford Cal. 1837-8; Crockford's Clerical Direct. 1899; Burke's Peerage, 1899; Macdonell's Life of Archbishop Magee; Benson's Life of Archbishop Benson; Times, 11 June 1900; 'Bishop Ryle the Prince of Tract Writers' (Drummond Tract Depot, Stirling).]

J. M. R.