Rainier was born in England, the grandson of Daniel Regnier, a Huguenot refugee, and the son of Peter Rainier of Sandwich. He enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1756 at the age of 15. He served on HMS Oxford, Yarmouth, Norfolk, and Burford. On May 26, 1768, working as the master of one of his family's merchant ships, Rainier was promoted to lieutenant.
During the American Revolutionary War, Rainier was severely wounded on July 8, 1778, while capturing a large American privateering ship. He was promoted in rank and went on to become Captain of the 32-gun frigate Astraea. He commanded her on the Jamaica Station from 1786 to 1790.
From 1794 to 1805, Rainier commanded Royal Navy operations in the East Indies. During his tenure, large swaths of territory came under British control.
In 1795, he was promoted to Rear-Admiral. In 1799, Rainier was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. He served in the East Indies as Commodore and commander-in-chief of a fleet until 1805, when he returned to England and retired from active duty. After Rainier's retirement, he continued to be consulted by the ministry and in 1805 was promoted to Admiral of the Blue in the celebratory promotions following the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. In 1807, he became a Member of Parliament (MP) for Sandwich. He died the following year at his home on Great George Street, Westminster.
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