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A younger son of Nathaniel Ryder, first Baron Harrowby, Ryder was educated at Harrow and St John's College, Cambridge. He received his M.A. in 1787. He entered Lincoln's Inn the following year and was called to the bar in 1791. He was elected as a bencher at Lincoln's Inn in 1812 and was treasurer there in 1819. He was appointed as a judge in the great sessions for Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire in 1804 and served there until 1807.
He also had a political career. He was elected as M.P. for Tiverton (a borough controlled by his family) in 1795 and served until the seat was abolished in 1830. He was a supporter of William Pitt the younger and the Tories. Ryder was appointed Lord Commissioner of the Treasury by the Prime Minister, the 3rd Duke of Portland, in 1807. He was also made a privy councillor and judge advocate-general in the same year.
In 1809 the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, appointed him as Secretary of State for the Home Department. Some historians have suggested that Ryder felt unable to cope with the demands of the job, which included responsibility for dealing with the Luddite attacks in 1811 and 1812.
He resigned after Perceval's assassination in 1812 and took no further government positions.
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