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, and in partnership with his two older 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. At its peak, the company employed a workforce of 15,000 in 17 mills and factories, producing 35 tons of cloth a day.