Oswald Rayner

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Oswald Theodore Rayner
Sepia monochrome bust-length portrait of a clean shaven white male with short, slicked-back hair and a centre parting.
Born 1888 or 1889
Smethwick, Staffordshire, England
Died Botley, Oxfordshire, England
Known for

Oswald Rayner (born 1888 or 1889,[1] Smethwick, Staffordshire, England, died 6 March 1961, Botley, Oxfordshire, England) was a British MI6 agent in Russia during World War I. He later went on to be the Daily Telegraph correspondent in Finland.

Oswald Theodore Rayner was born in Smethwick, the son of Thomas Rayner, a draper and his wife Florence.[2] Between the years 1907 and 1910 Rayner studied Modern Languages at Oriel College, Oxford. During his time at Oxford, Rayner formed a close relationship with Felix Yusupov who was also enrolled at the University. By the outbreak of the First World War, Rayner was highly proficient in the French, German and Russian languages, and so, was recruited to MI6 as an intelligence officer.

He is believed to have been involved in the final murder plot against Rasputin, and according to a recent investigation might be the person who fired the shot that actually killed Rasputin.[3]

Later he compiled an English translation of Yusupov's book, Rasputin; His Malignant Influence and His Assassination[4] He named his only son, John Felix Rayner, after Yusupov.


  1. ^ The Manuscript and picture unit of Åbo Akademi university library in Turku, Finland, has letters written by Oswald Rayner (635 letters in all). In a letter dated 13 January 1921 he states he is 32 years old and 24 November 1922 he says he is 34 years old. The year of his birth is thus most probably 1888. His birth was registered in the first quarter of 1889 so could be in the last few weeks of 1888 or early 1889.
  2. ^ 1891 Census of Kings Norton, RG12/2363, Folio 42, Page 27, Oswald Theodore Rayner, aged two, 89 Soho Street, Smethwick.
  3. ^ Miller, Karyn (19 September 2004). "British spy 'fired the shot that finished off Rasputin'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 September 2007. 
  4. ^ Rasputin; His Malignant Influence and His Assassination by Youssoupoff, Prince. (Translated from the Russian by Oswald Rayner) Florin books series. Publisher: Cape repr 1934