The surname of STEELE was a baptismal name 'the son of Staal'. The name was of Scandinavian origin, and came over to England with the Conqueror in 1066. The name was also occasionally used as a metonymic occupational name for a foundary worker, derived from the Middle English word STELE. In Ireland this surname is mainly found in Ulster with over one half of the Steele families in Ireland, living in County Antrim. The name came to Ireland from England and Scotland in, and since the 17th century. Early records of the name mention Robert Steele, 1273 County Lincolnshire. Johannes Stele, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Steel (batchelor) married Abigail Hancock at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in 1615. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. A notable member of the name was Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729) the essayist, dramatist and politician, born in Dublin. He was educated at Charterhouse, and Merton College, Oxford, after which he entered the army as a cadet in the Life Guards. Reacting against military life, he wrote 'The Christian Hero' (1701) to show that gentlemanly virtues can be practised only on a Christian basis. In 1713, he entered Parliament, but was expelled the following year on account of a pamphlet 'The Crisis' written in favour of the house of Hanover. He was however, on the succession of George I rewarded with the appointment of supervisor of Drury Lane Theatre, and a knighthood followed. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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