THE NAME AND FAMILY OF STEEL(E)
The name of STEELE or STEEL is of ancient Danish origin and was derived from the name Staal. It is found on ancient records in the various spellings of Staal, Stel, Stele, Steell, Steel, and Steele, of which the two forms last mentioned are those most generally used today. Families of this name were to be found at early dates in the Counties of Lincoln, Cumberland, Essex, Lanark, Suffolk, York, Dublin, Chester, Kildare, and London. They were, for the most part, of the landed gentry and yeomanry of the British Isles.
Among the early records of the family bearing this name are those of Robert Stele of Lincolnshire in the year 1273; John Stel of Suffolk County, about the same time; Johannes Stele of Yorkshire in 1379; Willemus Stele or Steel of the latter fourteenth century; John Steele, who married Abigail Hannkok in London about 1651, and Lawrence Steel of the Chestershire line, who was Clerk in the House of Commons, Steel (e)
Ireland, as early as 1662. There was also a long line of Steeles who held the title of Baronets of Hempstead, County Dublin.
While it is not definitely known in every case from which of the lines of the family in Great Britain the first emigrants of the name to America were descended, it is generally believed that most, if not all, of the families of Steele or Steel derived from a common ancestor of a remote period.
One of the first of the name in America was John Steele or Steel, who came from County Essex, England, to Dorchester, Mass., about the year 1630 or shortly thereafter. He later removed to Cambridge and thence to Hartford, Conn., finally settling at Farmington, where he died about 1665. By his first wife Rachel he was the father of John, Samuel, Lydia, Mary, Hannah, Sarah, and Daniel, of whom the last died young. It is thought probable that he had no further issue by his second wife the Widow Mary Seymour (or according to one writer, Mercy Seamer), whom he married in the 1655. John, eldest son of the immigrant John, made his home at Farmington and was married in 1646 to Mary or Mercy Warner.
They were the parents of, among others, Mary, John, Samuel, and Benoni.
Samuel, son of the immigrant John, was also a resident of Farmington. He had issue there by his wife, Mary Boosey, of James, Mary, Rachel, Sarah, Samuel, John, Hannah, and Ebenezer.
George Steele or Steel, brother (possibly elder) of the immigrant John, either accompanied or followed his brother to America. He was residing at Cambridge, Mass. , in 1632 and later removed to Hartford, Conn. He was the father of Richard (died without issue), Elizabeth, James, and possibly others.
James, son of the immigrant George, was the father by his first wife, Ann Bishop, of Sarah, James, John, Mary, Elizabeth, and Rachel. Later in life he married the Widow Bethia (flee Hopkins) Stocking, but had no further issue.
Thomas Steel emigrated to America from Renfrewshire, Scotland, sometime before the year 1691. According to certain accounts he was a descendant of the line of the Baronets of Hempstead. He made his home at Boston and was the father by his wife Margaret of Thomas, Allen John, Jane, Elizabeth, Samuel, and one other named David who died young.
4 Steel (e) Sometime after the year 1740 Captain Ninian Steele came from Ireland at an extremely early age with his father, whose name is not known. He lived first in Chester County, Pa., whence he later removed to Iredell County, N.C. In 1770 he was married to Elizabeth Chambers, by whom he had issue of Jane, Samuel, Henry, Joseph, Anna, Ninian, Elizabeth, Robert, James, and Samuel (the first of that name having died young).
Archibald Steele came to America about 1764 from Ireland, whither his family had gone from Scotland. He first settled in Lancaster County, Pa., whence he removed to South Carolina. By his wife Agnes he had issue of James, John, Joseph, William, and Robert. It is thought probable that William Steele, who resided in Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century, was the brother of the immigrant Archibald. William had four sons, John, Archibald, William, and James.
James Steele or Steel, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, came to America sometime before the year 1666 and may have been accompanied by his brothers, John and Thomas. He settled first at Philadelphia and later at Pittsburg, whence he removed to Virginia. By his wife, Mary Paterson, he had issue of John, James, and Thomas, and possibly of others as well.
The offspring of these and possibly of other lines of the family in America, have spread to every part of the country and have made a worthy contribution to the furtherance of American civilization. They are known, on the whole, as an ambitious, energetic, resourceful, and shrewd race, of quick discernment and sound judgment. Members of the family have been especially outstanding in the fields of business, education, theology, and the professions generally.
Among those of the name who served as officers in the War of the Revolution were Lieutenant Aaron Steel, of Massachusetts; Captain David Steel, of Virginia; Captain Bradford Steele, of Connecticut; Captain John Steele, of New York; Captain John Steele, of Pennsylvania; and Captain William Steele, of Pennsylvania.
Robert, John, William, Samuel, James, Thomas, Ninian, and Joseph are some of the Christian names most favored by the family for its male progeny.
A few of the many members of the family who have distinguished themselves in America in more recent times are:
- Joel Dorman Steele (1836-1886), of New York, textbook author.
- Daniel Steel (1824-1914), of New York, Methodist Episcopal clergyman and university president.
- Wilbur Daniel Steele (b. 1886), of North Carolina, author.
- Thomas McBlaln Steele (b. 1878), of New York, lawyer and banker.
- William La Barthe Steele (b. 1875), of Illinois, architect.
- Robert McCurdy Steele (b. 1882), of Pennsylvania, educator.
- Heath McClung Steele (b 1884), of Tennessee, corporation official.
- David McConnell Steele (b. 1873), of Pennsylvania, Protestant Episcopal Clergyman.
One of the most ancient and best-known of the coats of arms of the Steel(e) family is that described as follows (Burke, General Arjnory, 1884; Valcourt-Vermont, America Heraldica, 1886):
- Arms.--"Argent, a bend checpiy, sable and ermine, between two lion's heads erased gules, on a chief azure, three billets or." Crest.--"A lion's head erased gules."
- Bardsley. English and Welsh Surnames. 1901.
- Burke. General Armory. 1884.
- Durrie. Steele Family. 1859.
- G. W. Steele. Thomas Steel of Boston and His Descendants. 1905.
- N. C. Steele. Captain Ninian Steele. 1901.
- N. C. Steele. Archibald Steele and His Descendants. 1900.
- Savage. Genealogical Dictionary of New England. 1860.
- Heitman. Officers of the Continental Army. 1914.
- The Americana. 1934.
- Valcourt-Vermont. America Heraldica. 1886.
- E. W. Crone. A History of the Crone, Pence, Switzer,
- Weaver, Heatwole, Stout, Steel, and Fissel Families. 1916.
J. A. McClure. The McClure Family. 1914.
- J. N. McCue. The McCues of the Old Dominion. 1912.