The peerage was created in 1821 for Lady Charlotte Strutt, wife of Colonel Joseph Strutt, Member of Parliament for Maldon. Joseph Strutt had earlier declined the offer of a peerage, and instead proposed that the honour be given to his wife. Lady Rayleigh was the daughter of James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster, and his wife Lady Emily Lennox, the second of the famous Lennox sisters. Her elder brother was Charles FitzGerald, 1st Baron Lecale and her younger brother was Lord Edward FitzGerald.
Other notable members of the Strutt family include:
- John William Strutt, the third Baron, was a noted physicist and Nobel Prize recipient.
- Robert John Strutt, the fourth Baron, was also a well-known physicist who discovered "active nitrogen".
- John Strutt, MP for Maldon from 1774 to 1790
- Edward Gerald Strutt, son of the second Baron and founder of Strutt & Parker
- Charles Hedley Strutt, MP for Maldon and chairman of the Anglo-Dutch Plantations of Java
- Sir Nigel Strutt, former chairman of the Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd.
The title is currently held by the fourth Baron's grandson, the sixth Baron, who succeeded his uncle in 1988.
Barons Rayleigh (1821)
- Charlotte Mary Gertrude Strutt, 1st Baroness Rayleigh (1758–1836)
- John James Strutt, 2nd Baron Rayleigh (1796–1873)
- John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh (1842–1919)
- Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh (1875–1947)
- John Arthur Strutt, 5th Baron Rayleigh (1908–1988)
- John Gerald Strutt, 6th Baron Rayleigh (b. 1960)
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Hon. John Frederick Strutt (b. 1993)