Rylett, Harold (1851–1936), non-subscribing presbyterian minister, journalist, land leaguer, and home ruler, was born 4 February 1851, probably in Manchester. Educated at Owens College and the Unitarian College, Manchester, after an initial ministry at Reading (1877–8) he moved to Co. Down, ministering at Moneyrea (1879–84), where he became active in the burgeoning land movement. Towards the end of 1880 the Land League began to penetrate parts of Ulster, and that December Rylett spoke alongside Michael Davitt (qv), Joseph Biggar (qv), and John Dillon (qv) at an early meeting in Sainfield, Co. Down, where he bitterly attacked the readiness of the Orange Order to aid landlords while doing little for tenant farmers. By early 1881 he had joined the league, and soon after was a member of the executive and a leader and organiser in mid-Ulster.
With the introduction of Gladstone's eagerly awaited land bill in April 1881 Rylett was chosen by C. S. Parnell (qv) to help prepare the league's response. At a meeting of the league executive (12 April 1881) he introduced a motion declaring the land bill wholly inadequate; he strongly advocated that the Irish parliamentary party vote against the bill's second reading, seeing it as perpetuating a more tolerable landlordism rather than abolishing it, which was the league's aim. Parnell, however, rejected this militant stance. Following the passing of the act, and the appointment of the MP for Co. Tyrone, E. F. Litton (1828–90), as a land commissioner, a by-election was called and Rylett was persuaded by Parnell to run as a home rule candidate on a platform of anti-coercion and peasant proprietorship. Rylett's candidacy, however, was ultimately divisive, doing more harm than good for the league in Ulster. He was not universally popular; the catholic clergy opposed his candidacy and many league branches voted to support T. A. Dickson (1833–1909), a pro-tenant Liberal. Dickson was leading the tenant-right movement at the time and many voted for him because they believed only he could beat the tory Colonel W. S. Knox (1826–1900). Rylett finished third in the polling.
Following the land war Rylett returned to England, where he held various ministries: at Maidstone (1884–7), Dudley (1887–9), Hyde, Flowery Field (1889–96), London (1896–1904), and Tenterden (1904–29). During this part of his life he focused on journalism and writing, frequently contributing to English, Irish, and American journals; he was briefly English correspondent for the New York Standard and, at the turn of the century, editor and proprietor of the New Age. He was an advocate of improving conditions in cottage industries such as nail- and chain-making and wrote pamphlets exposing sharp practices and slum conditions. In 1910 he again stood for election, unsuccessfully contesting Burton upon Trent as a Liberal. He retired to Co. Down in 1930 and died 9 August 1936. He married in 1880 Louisa Boucher and had one son, Stopford Harold, who became a barrister in Rhodesia.