Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 54.djvu/137

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Steele
Steele
130

at Flint assizes for not reading the common prayer; the prosecution fell through, owing to Charles II's declaration in October. He was again presented at the spring assizes on 28 March 1661 at Hawarden. He resigned his living in consequence of the Uniformity Act of 1662, preaching a farewell sermon (17 Aug.), in which he said he was ejected for not subscribing his assent to the new prayer-book, which he had not yet seen. He continued to communicate at Hanmer, where he received ‘sitting’ on 19 April 1663. On 25 July he was presented for baptising his own children, and in October was arrested on suspicion of treason. Early in 1665 he was made collector for Hanmer of the ‘royal aid,’ the point being to treat him as a layman. In April 1665 he was again arrested, as he was setting out for London; his pocket diary was taken from him, and passages were misconstrued. An entry of an appointment ‘on a carnal account’ was ‘interpreted to be some woman design.’ Philip Henry records ‘a great noise in the country concerning Mr. Steel's almanack.’ The Five Miles Act, coming into force on 25 March 1666, compelled him to leave Hanmer, and he took up his residence in London. Urwick conjectures (Nonconformity in Cheshire, 1864, p. xlix) that his was the license granted on 10 June 1672 for presbyterian preaching in ‘the house of Rob. Steele’ at Barthomley, Cheshire; he certainly contributed to the building of a school at Barthomley in 1675. Though he may have made occasional visits to the north, Philip Henry's diary shows that he was constantly exercising his ministry in London from 1671. He gathered a morning congregation at Armourers' Hall, Coleman Street; in the afternoon he preached at Hoxton. He died on 16 Nov. 1692. George Hamond [q. v.], his colleague and successor, preached his funeral sermon. He had ten sons, five of whom were dead in 1672. His portrait is in Dr. Williams's Library; an engraving from it by Hopwood is given in Wilson.

Steele published:

  1. ‘An Antidote against Distractions … in the Worship of God,’ 1667, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1673, 8vo; 4th edit. 1695, 12mo; last edit. 1834, 12mo.
  2. ‘The Husbandman's Calling,’ 1668, 8vo; 1670, 8vo.
  3. ‘A Plain Discourse upon Uprightness,’ 1670, 8vo; 1671, 8vo.
  4. ‘The Tradesman's Calling,’ 1684, 8vo; a revision of this by Isaac Watts passed through many editions with title ‘The Religious Tradesman;’ last edit. Edinburgh, 1821, 12mo.
  5. ‘A Discourse concerning Old Age,’ 1688, 8vo.

Also four sermons in the ‘Morning Exercises,’ 1660–90, and a biographical preface to the posthumous sermons (1678) of Thomas Froysell (1622–1672).

[Funeral Sermon by Hamond, 1693; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 708; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, ii. 835; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London 1808, ii. 448 sq.; Williams's Life of Philip Henry, 1825, passim; Lee's Diaries and Letters of Philip Henry, 1882, passim; Mayor's Admissions to St. John's, Cambridge, 1882, i. 63.]

A. G.

STEELE, Sir RICHARD (1672–1729), essayist, dramatist, and politician, was born in Dublin in March 1672 (N. S.), and was baptised at St. Bridget's Church on the 12th of that month. He was consequently some weeks older than Joseph Addison [q. v.], who was born on 1 May following. Steele's father, also Richard Steele, was a well-to-do Dublin attorney, who had a country house at Mountain (Monkstown), and was at one time sub-sheriff of Tipperary. He married, in 1670, an Irish widow named Elinor Symes (or Sims), born Sheyles. When his son was ‘not quite five years of age’ (Tatler, No. 181), the elder Steele died, and of Mrs. Steele we know nothing but what the same authority tells us, namely, that she was ‘a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit.’ She cannot have long survived her husband, since Steele seems to have passed early into the care of an uncle, Henry Gascoigne, private secretary to James Butler, first duke of Ormonde [q. v.], by whose influence the boy in November 1684 obtained a nomination to the Charterhouse, of which the duke was a governor. Two years later Addison entered the same school, and a lifelong friendship began between the pair.

In November 1689 Steele was ‘elected to the university’ of Oxford, whither Addison had already preceded him. On 13 March 1690 he matriculated at Christ Church, and on 27 Aug. 1691 he became a postmaster of Merton, his college tutor being Dr. Welbore Ellis [q. v.], afterwards mentioned in the ‘Christian Hero.’ He continued his friendship with Addison, then a demy at Magdalen, and appears to have visited him in his home at Lichfield (Preface to the Drummer, 1722, and Tatler, No. 235). While at college he enjoyed some reputation as a scholar. He dabbled also in letters, composing a comedy which, by the advice of a friend, Mr. Parker of Merton, he burned. Then suddenly, in 1694, much to the regret of ‘the whole Society,’ he left Merton without taking a degree, and entered the army as a cadet or gentleman-volunteer in the second troop of life-guards, at that time under the command of the second Duke of Ormonde, thereby losing, as he tells us in the ‘Theatre,’ No. 11,