The son of Anthony Steele, of Barnard Castle. His parents had entertained John Wesley. He took over the family business of leather-working at Barnard Castle. He was actively involved in the local WM society, as Sunday School teacher and local preacher, and made his theological library available to the itinerant preachers in the circuit. In 1857 he published a history of Methodism in Barnard Castle and the Dales, an area to which his great-grandfather, Jacob Rowell, had given many years of service as an itinerant. His sister Mary, who died in 1815, married Christopher Dove (see Dove family), of Darlington, Co. Durham, later of Leeds.