RAYNER (Reyner), JOHN, sea captain, deputy governor of Newfoundland for George Calvert, Lord Baltimore; fl. 1661–62.
When, in March 1661, Lord Baltimore’s patent of Avalon was declared still valid, captains Pease and John Rayner were sent to Newfoundland by Baltimore as his deputies. They made their headquarters at Ferryland but their administration was neither successful, because of their constant disagreements, nor popular, because Rayner tried to collect arrears of rent owing to Baltimore. The only account of Rayner’s governorship, however, was written by an agent of the Kirkes and must therefore be suspect; “Captaine Reyner,” he wrote, “is a desperado and looks not fore right.”
While in Newfoundland Rayner and Pease claimed for Baltimore a half-share in two French prizes taken by the convoy ships. Rayner also seized a ship, the John of Topsham, on the pretence of enforcing the Act of Navigation as the master could not prove that the Dutch-built vessel was English owned. In 1662 the owner sued Rayner in the Admiralty court for recovery of his ship.
In September 1661 it was reported that Rayner had left for England but he was in Newfoundland in 1662 when he and Pease sent John Matthews to St. Mary’s Bay to seize a Mr. Russell and an Indian who were taking furs without permission. Matthews was captured by the French, who said that the southern part of the island belonged to France. How much longer Rayner stayed in Newfoundland we do not know; certainly Baltimore’s authority over the island was not long maintained for, in 1666, certain of the planters asked Sir David Kirke’s son, George, to assume the governorship.
BM, Egerton ms 2395, ff.308–8v., 447, 471. PRO, C.O. 1/16, no.113; Dom., Car.II, S.P. 29/42, no.10; H.C.A. 13/74, 6 Nov. 1662, depositions of John Chettle, Robert Swanley, and William Reyner; Acts of P. C, col. ser., 1613–80. Lounsbury, British fishery at Nfld. Prowse, History of Nfld.