The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Steel, Rev. Robert
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Steel, Rev. Robert
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Steel, Rev. Robert, D.D., Ph.D., is of Scotch extraction, but was born at Pontypool, Monmouthshire, in 1827. He was educated at the Ayr Academy and at the Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities, being licensed to preach by the Free Presbytery of Irvine in 1851. He subsequently held various charges, being transferred to Halford in 1855 and to Cheltenham in 1859. He meanwhile contributed to the religious press, and was the originator and for four years one of the editors, of Meliora, a quarterly periodical of social science. In 1861 he was created Ph.D. of the University of Göttingen, and in the same year was appointed to the pastorate of the Macquarie Street church, Sydney, where he arrived in June 1862. Subsequently he took a leading part in promoting the union of the Presbyterian churches of New South Wales, and was elected Moderator of the third General Assembly in 1867. He was actively interested in the establishment of St. Andrews College, and he has been one of the General Assembly's tutors in theology. For five years he edited the Presbyterian, a weekly paper in Sydney. In 1869 he was adjudged guilty of contempt of court for having published a letter from a missionary exposing the evils of the Polynesian labour traffic, and which it turned out had reference to the proceedings of a captain who was awaiting trial for the murder of kidnapped South Sea Islanders. The Chief Justice, Sir Alfred Stephen, dissented from the decision, and Dr. Steel was the object of much popular sympathy, evidenced by addresses and presentations. He was created D.D. by Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and in 1874 was transferred to the pastorate of St. Stephen's Church, Phillip Street, Sydney, which he still holds. In the same year Dr. Steel visited the New Hebrides, in the Dayspring, in order to see the working of the missions, in which he had always taken a deep interest, and published a book on the subject in 1880. Amongst other works, Dr. Steel is author of the following: "Doing Good, or the Christian in Walks of Usefulness"(1858); "Samuel the Prophet, and the Lessons of his Life and Times" (1860); "Lives made Sublime by Faith and Work" (1861); "Burning and Shining Lights, or Memoirs of Good Ministers of Jesus Christ" (1864); "The Christian Teacher in Sunday Schools" (1867); "The Shorter Catechism with Analyses, Illustrations, and Anecdotes" (1885); and "The Achievements of Youth" (1891). All the above were published by Messrs. Nelson & Sons, of Edinburgh. Dr. Steel, who is the son of the late James Steel and Anne Gillespie his wife, married at Huntly, Scotland, on Nov. 23rd, 1853, Miss Mary Allardyce.