Born at Macclesfield, England in May 1816, Ryle was the eldest son of a well-to-do banker who also worked as a silk manufacturer. Ryle went to Eton and then to Christ Church, Oxford where he excelled in athletics. His studies went well also, and though offered a teaching position, he declined it, intending to make a career in politics in Parliament. When his father suffered the disgrace of bankruptcy, Ryle's entire world changed.
He turned to the church during his hardship and was ordained in 1842. Serving as a rector and a vicar, Ryle retained internally the stigma of shame his entire life, yet he acknowledged that the Lord directed him into the clergy, a profession he hadn't entertained. Determined to follow the Lord's call for his life, Ryle worked hard as an energetic preacher and prolific author to support the evangelical school of thought and the Puritan ideals. He penned many works, including Christian Leaders of the Eighteen Century and Holiness. In 1880 he was appointed by the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's recommendation to be the new see of Liverpool. As the first bishop of the city and diocese of Liverpool, Ryle served his community until his death on June 10, 1900.
Influential at the time, Ryle's message stayed consistent at a time when the Church of England was struggling. For some his was a calm voice during a storm, but critics claim he lacked foresight and the ability to change and move forward. Some modern religious writers believe his written works have been undervalued, and they are working to bring Ryle's words back to the public's attention.