Steele Family History

William Steel UEL and Family by Ted Steele

Our roots begin with William Steel in Ireland. Born in 1744, in Tipperary County or Enneskillin County, he was a weaver by trade. With no wife and one son (John) who was about 7 years old, he travelled to Liverpool, England, and sailed for the British colony of New York. William was a known supporter of British policies, and apparently made no secret of this. As the rebellion brewed, he was vilified by the press and declared an enemy of the people.

I have recently found documentation that he was at some point tarred & feathered by a patriot mob, and a reward was offered for his capture, dead or alive. This likely propelled him into the revolution itself, as he joined Loyalist forces in New Jersey and became a New Jersey Volunteer.

In 1781, near the end of the rebellion, he was a spy carrying secret documents, was caught and jailed at Morris Town (West Point). He escaped; I have read often that prisoners, even criminals, could often bribe their jailors and escape. The legend is true!

At the end of the war, he married one Deborah Dorson in Goshen, New York & departed for British Canada. He arrived in the Niagara area about 1787, in all probability crossing at Buffalo. In 1795, William was proven to be a Loyalist & received a grant of 200 acres. In addition, his children, as children of a Loyalist, each were eligible for 200 acres upon reaching 21 years (girls earlier, if they married). Steele roots were thus set down in Humberstone, near Port Colborne. William produced 7 children, several of whom have important histories of their own. Read more about William and his decendants below.