THOUGH not a representative for any of the divisions of Glasgow, Mr. Wylie of Cordale, by his long business and other connections, has been intimately associated with the city. A large part of his life has been occupied with the building up and management of the great Turkey-red industry which affords employment to thousands of the population of the Vale of Leven. The industry may be said to be hereditary to the member for Dunbartonshire on the side both of his father and his mother. His mother's brother built the Ferryfield Printwork at Alexandria, and carried it on successfully for many years as a member of the firm of Guthrie, Kinloch & Co., and it was his father, Mr. John Wylie, who in 1843 introduced the new process of Turkey-red dyeing to the Vale of Leven.
Mr. Wylie himself received his early training in colour-making and calico-printing under his father's guidance in the works of Sir Archibald Orr-Ewing & Co., and after some years at Glasgow University he acquired a knowledge of the commercial side of the business in the Glasgow offices of the firm. In 1874 he transferred his services to the business of Messrs. William Stirling & Sons, and four years later was on the point of becoming a partner, when the head of the firm, Mr. John Matheson, Jun., died. In company, however, with some others, Mr. Wylie acquired the business, and thenceforth continued to act as resident partner of the firm till it was merged, with the other print-works in the Vale of Leven, in the United Turkey-red Company, Ltd.
Apart from his business, Mr. Wylie was for long a Director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and as a J.P. for Dunbartonshire, one of the Commissioners of Supply, and a member of the County Council, took an active interest in the affairs of his county. As Chairman of Cardross School Board, he did much for the physical as well as mental development of the youth of that parish, while in Renton itself, at the gates of Cordale, he did much to encourage in healthy lines the game of football of which the region was for many years the most famous centre; and it is largely owing to his efforts and guidance that Renton village has undergone its transformation and improvement within the last thirty years. He also used an able pen to advocate improvements in the conditions of life among the working classes, contributing practical articles on the subject to Fraser's Magazine and other periodicals, and in 1884 published a work, "Labour, Leisure and Luxury," which attracted a great deal of attention.
In 1895 Mr. Wylie was elected M.P. for Dunbartonshire against Captain Sinclair, the previous representative, and his speeches in the House of Commons, especially on Indian subjects and economics, were of the greatest practical value, being derived from accurate knowledge at first hand. To the regret of supporters and opponents alike, he did not again seek re-election in 1906.
In 1880 Mr. Wylie married Miss Mylrea, daughter of Mr. P. Mylrea, Waterloo, Liverpool, but the lady died three years afterwards.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)