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William Steele (Lord Chancellor of Ireland)

William Steele (bap. 19 August 1610, Sandbach – 1680) was an English lawyer, judge and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1654. He was Chief Baron of the Exchequer and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Steele was a son of Richard Steele of Sandbach, Cheshire, and his wife Cicely Shaw, and was educated at Caius College, Cambridge.[1]

In 1648 he was chosen to be 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 James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton and other leading Royalists.[2]

Steele was elected MP for the City of London in 1654.[3] 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.[2]

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.[2]


William was the nephew of Thomas Steele (died 1643), who was shot for surrendering Beeston Castle in the Civil War.[4] His brother Laurence Steele (bap. 1616) was Clerk of the Irish House of Commons from 1662 to 1697.[5]

He married firstly in 1638 Elizabeth Godfrey of Kent, daughter of Richard Godfrey, MP for New Romney and Mary Moyle. He married secondly in 1662 Mary Mellish, widow of Michael Harvey (a brother of the noted scientists William Harvey). He had issue by both marriages. His daughter, Mary Steele (died 1673), married George Boddington (1646–1719), a director of the Bank of England.[6] His grandson was the writer Richard Steele (1672–1729), the son of the elder Richard Steele, William's only son from his first marriage, and his wife Elinor Symes (née Sheyls). The elder Richard was an attorney who spent much of his life in Ireland: he died in 1676.[citation needed]

Family Tree



  1. ^ "Steele, William (STL627W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Steele, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 867.
  3. ^ Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 ... London. pp. 229–239.
  4. ^ George Atherton Aitken (1860–1917), The Life of Richard Steele, publ. 1889 W. Isbister (page 350)
  5. ^ John Parsons Earwaker, The History of the Ancient Parish of Sandbach, Co. Chester including the two chapelries of Holmes Chapel and Goostrey from original records. (1890) (page 20)
  6. ^ David Hayton, Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley (Eds.), The House of Commons, 1690-1715, Volume 1, Publisher Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-77221-4, ISBN 978-0-521-77221-1 (page 251)
  • O. J. Burke, History of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland (Dublin 1879)
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir John Wilde
Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Widdrington
Preceded by
In commission - last held by Sir Richard Bolton
Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir Maurice Eustace
Retrieved from "[]"