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In 1648 he was chosen recorder of London, and he was one of the four counsel appointed to conduct the case against Charles I in January 1649, but illness prevented him from discharging this duty. However, a few days later he took part in the prosecution of the Duke of Hamilton and other Royalists.
Steele was elected MP for the City of London in 1654. He was chief baron of the exchequer in 1655, and was made lord chancellor of Ireland in 1656. After the fall of Richard Cromwell he was one of the five commissioners appointed in 1659 to govern Ireland. At the end of this year he returned to England, but he refused to sit on the committee of safety to which he had been named.
At the Restoration he obtained the full benefits of the Act of Indemnity, but he thought it advisable to reside for a time in Holland. However, he had returned to England before his death towards the end of 1680.
William was the nephew of Thomas Steele (d. 1643), who was shot for surrendering Beeston Castle in the Civil War. His brother Laurence Steele (bap. 1616) was Clerk of the Irish House of Commons from 1662 to 1697. His daughter, Mary Steele (d. 1673), married George Boddington (1646–1719), a director of the Bank of England. His grandson was writer Richard Steele (1672–1729).
Sir John Wilde
| Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Sir Thomas Widdrington
In commission - last held by Sir Richard Bolton
| Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Sir Maurice Eustace