Steele Surname Genealogy
Steel and Steele
surnames came from Scotland and the north of
England. There were two possible origins
for these names:
they may have
started out as nicknames – describing someone who was inflexible and
as hard as steel.
that they may have
derived from the place-name of Steel, found along the Anglo-Scottish
Ayrshire, Berwickshire and Dumfriesshire and also in Northumberland and
Steele Resources on
- The Steels
Steels from Ireland to Pennsylvania.
- Guide to the Steele Family Collection
John Steele, early New England immigrant, and descendants.
- Steele Family
Steeles of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania.
- Five Generations of Builders
Steeles in Philadelphia.
main early sightings appear to have been in Cheshire.
Cheshire. The Steeles
at Sandbach dated back to Richard Steele who had acquired Giddy
Hall in the
early 1600’s. The main line followed his
son William to Ireland where he was appointed Lord Chancellor in
1656. A branch
via John Steele returned to England in the early 1700’s and became
Suffolk. Other Steeles remained at
plates and cups in the silver communion service used at the old
Sandbach parish church bear the following inscription: ‘The gift of
Steele, second son of Richard Steele of Sandbach, for the use of the
parish of Sandbach forever. 1656.’”
Steele line in Cheshire was to be found at Barthomley where Richard
born around the year 1550. Three Steele
descendants were massacred at the local church on Christmas Eve 1643 by
Royalists. Richard Steele, not one of
these, moved to London and became a nonconformist minister. Later Steeles in Barthomley held Buddylee
farm. Another Steele farming family
there, indebted, emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1795.
Elsewhere. Steeles in the village of
Basildon in Essex appeared around the year 1500. John
Steele emigrated from there to America
Steeles in Broughton in Hampshire went back to William Steele, a local
carpenter in the early 1600’s. Four
generations later the Steeles were well-to-do timber merchants, with
Steele – following his brother Henry – also active as pastor of
his local Baptist
church. His daughter Anne Steele, born in 1717,
prolific hymn writer.
Samuel Steele, born in 1708, was the first of his line in
Coleford, Gloucestershire. He had two
sons – Elmes a surgeon and Samuel an army officer in Canada. Six
of Elmes’s sons
followed in these footsteps.
was believed to have been below-board as an assistant surgeon on the Victory at Trafalgar, another was
drowned during a naval exercise in the Baltic.
Three served as soldiers throughout the Peninsular War, one of
from his wounds at Waterloo and another was said to have been the
in the British army during the subsequent occupation in Paris.”
Another naval officer Elmes Steele retired
early and emigrated to Canada in 1832.
In general, it should be said however, the Steele surname was to be
found mainly in the northwest of England, in a line stretching north
Staffordshire through Cheshire and Lancashire into Cumberland.
Steels in Scotland were spelt Steill, possibly from the parish
Berwickshire of that name.
The Steels of Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire had joined
the army of Covenanters at war with the Stuart kings.
The aged father Robert Steel was slain in
1679, whilst his son Captain John Steel at that time narrowly escaped
death. After years on the run David Steel was murdered
front door by Royalist dragoons in 1686.
Descendants of these Steels have
Steels who fled to Ireland and subsequently emigrated to
David Steel, the UK Liberal party leader from 1976 to 1988.
Steel, a shipowner from Kirkwood in Lanarkshire who had made his home
Liverpool in the mid-19th century, was the forebear of an English
family. There were seven Steel sons, of
whom four played first-class cricket for Lancashire and one Allan or AG
times for England.
were English Steeles and Scottish Steels
The English Steeles were based in Dublin following William Steele’s
appointment as Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1656.
His grandson Sir Richard Steele, born there,
made his name as a politician and playwright.
He co-founded in 1709 with his friend Joseph Addison the
magazine The Tatler (which continues to this
day). Richard’s grandson, also named
Richard, emigrated to Pennsylvania in the late 1700’s.
According to family
tradition three Steel brothers, loyal to the Covenanter cause, had been
to flee Scotland. It was said that one
of the rebel John Steel ended up in Donegal.
Many of these Steels later also emigrated to Pennsylvania.
Other Scottish Steels were to be found at Castleblaney in
Monaghan. The lads here formed the
“Steelboy insurrection” against English rule in the early 1770’s. For nearly three years the Steelboys
slaughtered cattle and destroyed the property of new tenants.
Steel then departed
for Pennsylvania in 1774.
and George Steele from Essex were early arrivals
in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631.
They moved inland four years later to be among the first
Hartford, Connecticut. Daniel Steele
Durrie’s 1862 book was entitled Steele
Family: A Genealogical History of John and George Steele.
Steele descendants migrated to New York (and
the numbers here included the landscape architect Fletcher Steele) and
Steele was a West Point graduate and a hero of the Mexican and Civil
Wars. In 1853 he returned to Ohio and told his brothers of the
opportunities in California, convincing them to make the journey and
there with their families.”
This they did in the next five years, leasing land at
Rancho Punta Año Nuevo and setting up five dairy farms.
Their story was told in C.B. and W.H.
Steele’s 1971 book The Steeles of Punta Año Nuevo.
Meanwhile another Steele line, in this case
via New York, produced Elijah Steele who had arrived in California in
was an Indian agent in northern California.
Pennsylvania. The Steele arrivals into
more numerous and included English (or Anglo-Irish) and Scottish (or
The Anglos included:
the grandson of Sir Richard Steele, who was granted lands in the
Mercersburg in the 1730’s. Three of his
sons, including Captain Andrew Steele who fought in the Revolutionary
later settled in Fayette county, Kentucky.
George Steele from Cheshire who
came to Chester county in 1795. His line
was covered in Frederick Steele’s 1896 book The
Descendants of George Steele of Barthomley.
amongst the more
numerous Scots Irish in Pennsylvania were:
Steele who arrived in 1750
and made his home in Steelville, Chester county. His
grandson Franklin headed west in 1838 and
was an early settler in Minneapolis.
Rev. John Steele who came to Carlisle in
Cumberland county in 1759 and served as the pastor of the Presbyterian
there for twenty years. He was known as
the fighting parson in the early years of the Revolutionary War. The name of Ephraim
Steele first appeared in Carlisle in 1769.
He was an influential merchant and landowner
there for forty-five years.
Steel from Monaghan who was in Cumberland
county by 1774, but soon headed west to Westmoreland county where he
various Steel Covenanter descendants in Donegal who came to
Pennsylvania in stages between 1790 and 1824. The
Rev. David Steele was a Covenanter minister in
Huntingdon and later
served as a pastor in Adams county, Ohio.
later arrival in 1846 was a Steele widow and her four sons from
Glasgow in Scotland. Her eldest son
started work in Philadelphia as a carpenter.
1886 the four sons
were partners in William Steele and Son,
Carpenters and Builders. No longer
house builders, they had quickly moved into large-scale construction. The project for which they became famous was
the Shibe Park baseball stadium, completed in 1909.
Pennsylvania also had some German-origin
Steeles who had come as Stahls.
Elsewhere. John Steele of Rowan county,
North Carolina was a nephew of the Ephraim Steele in Pennsylvania. He served as a Federalist legislator after
the Revolutionary War and was appointed comptroller of the US Treasury
George Washington in 1796.
Thomas Steele, a native of Dublin, had served on the
schooner General Putnam in defence of
New York during the Revolutionary War.
He settled with his family in Kentucky in 1798.
His grandson Alfonso fought with Sam Houston
at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. On his death in 1911 he was the last
remaining survivor of that battle.
and Thomas Steele, brothers from Antrim, arrived in Simcoe county
the 1820’s. Both settled in West
Gwillimbury township and both married McAfee girls.
Sam Steele, the son of retired British naval officer Elmes Steele,
was born in
Medonte township, Simcoe county in 1849.
He became an officer of the North-West Mounted Police, most
the head of the Yukon detachment during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898.
South of Simcoe county lay the city of Toronto where
Thomas and Milcah Steele arrived from Yorkshire in 1834.
Thomas and later his son John were
proprietors of the Green Bush Inn in
its Newtonbrook suburb. Steele’s Corners
and Steele’s Avenue in the area were named after them.
Australia. The early Steele accounts in Australia
related to convicts.
Betty Steele was a deaf young woman who was convicted of
burglary in London and transported to Australia on the infamous Lady Juliana in 1789. She
ended up in Norfolk Island where she
pioneered a farm with her ex-convict husband James Mackey.
Freed in 1794 she, however, died just one
year later. She might have been
forgotten had not her gravestone been discovered in 1971 almost two
George Steel from Suffolk came out to Tasmania as a fee settler in
1828. Six years later he was convicted
of cattle stealing and sent also to Norfolk Island.
Freed in 1843 he lived out the rest of his
life in Liverpool, NSW.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Sir Richard Steele was
an 18th century Irish writer,
playwright, and politician, remembered as the co-founder of The Tatler.
Sam Steele was a famous
Canadian Mountie in the 1890’s at the time of the Klondike gold rush.
Frederick Burgett, was an American middleweight
boxing champion of the world in the 1930’s who later became a Hollywood
Tommy Steele, born Thomas Hicks, was
regarded in the
1950’s as Britain’s first teen idol and rock and roll star. David
from Scotland was the
leader of the Liberal Party from 1976 until its merger with the Social
Democratic Party in 1988.
is an American writer, known for her best-selling romance novels.
Select Steeles Today
- 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 34,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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