Rainier, Peter (DNB00)

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RAINIER, PETER (1741?–1808), admiral, grandson of Daniel Regnier or Rainier, of a Poitevin family, who came to England on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, was son of Peter Rainier of Sandwich, by his wife, Sarah Spratt. He entered the navy in 1756 on board the Oxford, from which, in February 1758, he was moved to the Yarmouth, and on her arrival in the East Indies in March 1758 to the Tiger, in which he was present in the several actions of 29 April and 3 Aug. 1758 and 10 Sept. 1759 [see Pocock, Sir George]. In June 1760 he was moved to the Norfolk, bearing the flag of Rear-admiral Charles Stevens [q. v.] at the siege of Pondicherry, and afterwards of Vice-admiral Samuel Cornish [q. v.] at the reduction of Manila. In 1764 the Norfolk returned to England and was paid off. During the following years Rainier was probably employed under the East India Company. He passed his examination on 2 Feb. 1768, being then, according to his certificate, more than twenty-six. On 26 May 1768 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, but had no service in the navy till January 1774, when he was appointed to the Maidstone, commanded by Captain Alan Gardner (afterwards lord Gardner) [q. v.], in the West Indies. On 3 May 1777 he was promoted by Vice-admiral Clark Gayton [q. v.] to the command of the Ostrich sloop, and in her on 8 July 1778 captured a large American privateer after a hard-fought action, in which he was severely wounded (Beatson, Nav. and Mil. Mem. iv. 404). In approval of his conduct on this occasion the admiralty advanced him to post rank on 29 Oct. following, and in January 1779 appointed him to the Burford of 64 guns. In her he went out to the East Indies in the squadron under Sir Edward Hughes [q. v.], and took part in all the operations of the war, including the reduction of Negapatam and Trincomalee, and the five several actions with the Bailli de Suffren. After the peace the Burford returned to England, and Rainier was put on half-pay.

In 1790–1 he commanded the Monarch in the Channel, and early in 1793 commissioned the Suffolk of 74 guns, in which in the following year he went out to the East Indies as commodore and commander-in-chief, taking with him a large convoy, which arrived at Madras in November, without having touched anywhere on the voyage, a circumstance then considered extraordinary (James, i. 336). On 1 June 1795 he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and to that of vice-admiral on 14 Feb. 1799. He remained on the East India station as commander-in-chief till 1804, during which time he assisted at the reduction of Trincomalee in August 1795, and in February–March 1796 took possession of Amboyna and Banda Neira, with enormous booty, the admiral's share of which laid the foundation of a princely fortune. His principal duty, however, was to provide for the safety of the British settlements and the security of the British trade, a task for which his long experience of the East Indies pre-eminently fitted him. After his return to England and his retirement from active service, he continued to be consulted by the ministry on questions relating to the station.

In the Trafalgar promotion of 9 Nov. 1805 he was advanced to the rank of admiral, was returned to parliament in May 1807 as member for Sandwich, and died at his house in Great George Street, Westminster, on 7 April 1808, leaving by his will one-tenth of his property, proved at 250,000l., towards the reduction of the national debt. Rainier was not married. Rear-admiral John Spratt Rainier (d. 1836) and Captain Peter Rainier, C.B. (d. 1836), were his nephews; and others of the family, grand-nephews and great-grand-nephews, have been or still are in the navy. A portrait (1805) by Devis belonged to the Rev. W. S. Halliday. It has been engraved.

[Gent. Mag. 1808, i. 373, 457; Official Correspondence and other documents in the Public Record Office; Beatson's Naval and Military Memoirs; James's Naval History.]

J. K. L.