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John Charles Ryle

1816-1900. Bishop of Liverpool. Born at Macclesfield and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, the son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics. A fine athlete, he rowed and played cricket for Oxford, and also took a first class degree in Modern Greats, but declined offers of a college fellowship. He was spiritually awakened in 1838 on hearing Ephesians 2 read in church, and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. Country livings followed at Helmingham and Stradbrooke in Suffolk, until at the age of sixty-four he was appointed in 1880 at Disraeli's recommendation as first bishop of Liverpool.

Ryle was a prolific writer, the author of numerous tracts and books, of which Knots Untied is probably the best known. His leadership of the Evangelicals was sound and sensible, persuading them not to isolate themselves from the mainstream of church life by boycotting church congresses, and so leave Anglo- Catholics alone to put forward their views. In his diocese he exercised a vigorous and straightforward preaching ministry, and was a faithful pastor to his clergy, taking particular care over ordination retreats. He formed a clergy pension fund, built over forty churches, and proved an able administrator. A commanding presence and fearless advocacy of his principles were combined with a kind and understanding attitude in his personal relationships, while vast numbers of working men attended his special meetings. His strength of character was shown in that, despite strong criticism, he declared it his policy to put first the raising of clergy stipends rather than commence the building of a cathedral.

See M. Smout and P. Toon, John Charles Ryle: Evangelical Bishop (1976).