Wylie, William Howie (DNB00)

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WYLIE, WILLIAM HOWIE (1833–1891), baptist minister and journalist, son of William Wylie, block calico printer, Kilmarnock, by his wife Agnes, daughter of John Howie of Lochgoin, was born at Kilmarnock on 24 Feb. 1833. He was educated at Kilmarnock, and on leaving school was employed in the office of the ‘Kilmarnock Journal,’ and became local correspondent for the Glasgow ‘North British Mail.’ In 1847–50 he was sub-editor of the ‘Ayr Advertiser.’ From Ayr he went to Nottingham as editor of the ‘Nottingham Journal’ (1850–2). In 1852–3 he was sub-editor of the ‘Liverpool Courier,’ and in 1854–5 was editor of the ‘Falkirk Herald’ and sub-editor of the ‘Glasgow Commonwealth.’ In 1855 Wylie removed to Edinburgh, where he became sub-editor of the ‘Daily Express,’ at the same time contributing to the ‘War Telegraph,’ and attending the classes at the university with a view to the ministry. In 1859 he was president of the University Dialectic Society, and soon afterwards became a student at Regent's Park College, London, under Joseph Angus. In 1860 he was appointed baptist minister of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, and in 1865 he was transferred to Accrington in Lancashire. This charge he had to relinquish owing to a breakdown of health. He retired to Gourock; but, his health improving, he accepted the pastorate of a church at Blackpool. After a year's work he had to give up preaching, and resumed the profession of journalist. From 1870 to 1877 he acted as sub-editor of the ‘Christian World,’ at the same time writing the parliamentary letter for the ‘North British Mail’ and the ‘Greenock Telegraph,’ the first halfpenny evening paper in Britain, of which he was one of the original promoters, the proprietor being his brother-in-law, J. Pollock of Greenock. This paper Wylie edited more or less from the start. While in London he also contributed largely to the ‘Pall Mall Gazette,’ ‘Echo,’ and the ‘Freeman,’ the organ of the baptists. For many years Wylie also contributed to the ‘North British Mail’ two columns of literary notes every Monday, and in 1879 in the same paper there appeared an interesting series of articles from his pen, entitled ‘The Castles and Mansions of the West.’ In 1822 he founded in Glasgow the ‘Christian Leader,’ and was editor and proprietor of that paper till his death, at Troon, Ayrshire, on 5 Aug. 1891. He was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard, Kilmarnock, where a handsome monument has been erected to his memory.

Wylie was the inventor of the system of reporting verbatim speeches by turns, and his invention was put to the first practical test during the Liverpool election contest of 1852. In politics he was a liberal, and worked ardently for the cause.

On 11 Feb. 1861 Wylie married Helen Young, youngest daughter of Robert Pollock of Greenock; she survived him with a daughter and a son, William Pollock Wylie, manager of the commercial department of the ‘Christian Leader.’

Wylie was the author of: 1. ‘Ayrshire Streams,’ Kilmarnock, 1851, 8vo (reprinted from ‘Ayr Advertiser,’ 1849–50). 2. ‘Old and New Nottingham,’ London, 1853, 8vo. 3. ‘The Book of the Bunyan Festival …,’ London, 1874, 8vo. 4. ‘Thomas Carlyle: The Man and his Books …,’ London, 1881, 8vo (this work was written, printed, and published within the space of four weeks).

[Baptist Mag. 1891; Scottish Leader, 6 Aug. 1891; Christian Leader, 13 Aug. 1891; Freeman, 14 Aug. 1891; Helensburgh Times (with portrait), 12 Aug. 1891; information supplied by Wylie's son.]

G. S-h.