STEELE, Robert (1757-1817), of Westhampnett, nr. Chichester, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 24 Feb. 1757, yst. s. of Thomas Steele of Westhampnett, recorder of Chichester, by Elizabeth née Madgwick of Cuckfield; bro. of Thomas Steele*. educ. Westminster 1765; M. Temple 1775, called 1780. unm.
Recorder, Chichester 1787-d.; second justice of N. Wales circuit 1801-5; master in Chancery 1805-d.
Steele was an equity draftsman with a practice on the home circuit when his brother Thomas, ‘the friend and ex-favourite of Pitt’, gratified Addington by remaining in office in 1801. The result was a Welsh judgeship for Steele and, a year later, a seat in Parliament, on the interest of the 2nd Marquess of Bath. On 15 Mar. 1803 he obtained leave of absence to go his Welsh circuit. He was an inconspicuous Member and followed his brother’s political line. In June 1804 he was reported to have been ‘very ill’ and doubtless ‘much vexed by politics’, that is, his brother’s exclusion by Pitt.1
In 1805, when his brother was fully reconciled with Pitt, he was offered a mastership in Chancery: Spencer Perceval wrote to Lord Redesdale of ‘our friend Bob Steele, who has made up his mind, considering his health and comfort most wisely, to accept it and having done so, he seems delighted in it’. Redesdale reported that Steele thought ‘his health not equal to a continuance in heavy business at the bar’.2 Perhaps it was he, rather than his brother, who moved the indemnity bill for his patron’s brother Lord John Thynne, who had taken his seat in the House without taking the oaths, 18 Mar. 1805. He was one of the committee which investigated the 11th naval report that session. Like his brother, he voted against the Grenville ministry’s repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. Like him he retired from Parliament in 1807, sharing his disgrace, though he had no part in it. Steele died 10 July 1817.