American senator; born at Baltimore, Md., April 11, 1850. He was educated at the University of Virginia (1866-70), pursuing the academic course for three years and the law course for the last year. On leaving that institution he became a law student in the offices of Brown & Brune, Baltimore; shortly afterward he was admitted to the bar, and soon secured a large trial practise. In 1878 Rayner, as a Democrat, was elected a member of the Maryland legislature. Thereafter he devoted himself entirely to law until 1886, when he was elected state senator. In the same year he was nominated for Congress, and was elected for three terms; he declined nomination for a fourth term.
Rayner served upon the committees of foreign affairs, coinage, weights and measures, and commerce. He was chairman of the committee on organization, and was conspicuous in the contest for the repeal of the Sherman silver act.
In 1899 Rayner was elected attorney-general of Maryland, and in 1901, when Admiral Schley was called before a government court of inquiry, he was appointed associate counsel, becoming senior counsel upon the death of Judge Wilson. He increased his reputation by his masterly defense of that admiral. Rayner was elected United States senator on Feb. 4, 1904, for the term beginning March 5, 1905.