Robert STEELE b. 1815, Reigate, Surry, England, d. 1895, Arrow Junction, Otago, New Zealand, m. ca 1840 at Melbourne, Port Phillip District, Colony of NSW to Mary DUANE, b. 1828, Co Waterford, Ireland, d. 1902, Arrow Junction, Otago, New Zealand.
Robert STEELE became a Squatter of Poolaijelo & Dorodong Creek (near Casterton) & Yat Nat (near Balmoral), S-W Victoria, Australia in the 1840s & 1850s, during wich time a number of children were born. In 1856 the family moved from Victoria, Australia to New Zealand, and he became a Settler of Otago, New Zealand as summarised in his New Zealand obituary....
OBITUARY. Robert Steele : aged 80.
The late Robert Steele, who died at Arrow Junction on the 26th September was the son of the late Dr. Steele of Reigate. One of a family of 20 he ran away to sea at an early age, and served before the mast in the Royal Navy. He was for a time under Captain (later Admiral) Warden, and for awhile was engaged in the suppression of the slave trade off the west coast of Africa. He afterwards left the service, running away from his ship at Hobart. When in the act of clearing through the town he and his mate climbed a wall to avoid their pursuers and nearly fell into the arms of an old gentleman, who, on being informed they were runaways, entered imediately into the spirit of the undertaking took them through his house, shutting the door on those who were after them. From there, in 1837, he went to Melbourne, which at that time could not even be called a town. There he married, and stopped about three years, being employed in the coasting trade. He managed to save a bit of money, and bought a run from a Melbourne watchmaker named Martin about 400 miles up country. Of course at that time it was infested with wild blacks. However, by kindness, he got on very well with them, often employing the lubras, or black women, to tend the ewes at lambing time. At one time he had a fall-out with one of them, whom he caught in the act of breaking a ewe's neck. All the dead ones were her perquisites, and as they did not die quickly enough to satisfy the enormous appetites of the tribe she was connected with, she had to sacrifice one now and again privately. One black boy stopped a longtime with the Steeles till he was killed by a neighbouring tribe, all the tribes being hostile to each other. They were splendid riders. Another stopped until Mr. Steele went further down the country and afterwards became a black trooper and tracker. At one time when Mrs Steele was left alone in the bark-roofed hut they first had on the station, a wild blackfellow, in a state of nature, came into the room, and catching sight of himself in a looking-glass, looked behind it several times cautiously, and then not solving the mystery of the alter ego, executed a war hoop and a jump, and cleared right away, to the intense relief of Mrs Steele.
Making a stay of 12 months at this place, Pelicheloo [sic Poolaijelo W of Casterton] by name, they then went to Dooradong [sic Dorodong NW of Casterton]. There all the family were born, save two who died in Melbourne. At that time the mallee scrub land, some 60 miles away from there was reckoned useless and infertile, but now thousands of tons of grain finds its way to the seaboard annually, besides other produce. Close by was the run of Mr James Allen, the father of the M.H.R. of that name. From there they moved to Yatnat [sic Yat Nat near Balmoral], on the Glenelg, to some country they bought from Mr. Robert Officer, adjoining the Armytages' runs. After being there for three years, on the representations of Mr. W. Cameron in company with Messrs. Geary and Ward, now Southland settlers, they came down after a perilous voyage in the schooner Sybil, to Otago. They bought the Merrie Creek station from Mr. White at Popotunus (now Clinton), and lived there until 1862 ; also owning the Cairn station on the Upper Waipahi. He sold out at that time to John Douglas, the representative of the firm Douglas, Anderson & Co., for a good sum of ready money. He then went to Dunedin, building the house in Clyde street, now owned and lived in by Mr. Allen. He bought the schooner Despatch and traded on the coast and to the Chathams, but lost a good bit on her. At the same time he built a row of shops in George street on land leased from the Presbyterian Church, and when times got dull in Dunedin they were hard to let and he could not sell, and he gave up all his property, for which he got almost nothing in return. About 22 years ago he came to this district, and resided with his sons at their place to the day of his death. Deceased was of a happy, cheerful disposition, and always full of fun to the last, and to a certain extent still active, walking down to the late home of the writer of this sketch, a distance of two miles there and back, although in his 80th year. The day of his decease he was particularly happy, and after family worship, before retiring to rest, he said as usual "Not goodnight, for we shall meet again in the morning." He was ever prepared for the great change and the sudden summons that took him so peacefully away to the unknown land.
S. R. A.
Source : "Otago Witness" (New Zealand) 7th Nov 1895, P. 51.
Robert STEELE & Mary DUANE had the following family... (updated thanks to Shelley Angelo-Forrest)
- Ellen STEELE, b. & d. c.1842, Melbourne, Port Phillip, NSW.
- Mary STEELE, b. & d. c.1844, Melbourne, Port Phillip, NSW.
- Charles STEELE, b. c.1846, "Dorodong Creek, (NW of Casterton), Vic., Aus., d. 1914 Invercagill, Otago, New Zealand.
- Mary "Minnie" STEELE, b. c.1848, "Dorodong Creek, (NW of Casterton), Vic., Aus., d. 1904, Frankton Wharf, Otago, New Zealand, m. Stewart ANGELO in New Zealand.
- Henry STEELE, b. c.1850, "Dorodong Creek, (NW of Casterton), Vic., Aus., d. 1912 Kawarau River, Otago, New Zealand.
- female STEELE, b. 1853, "Dorodong Creek, (NW of Casterton), Vic., Aus., (this may have been Caroline)
- Caroline Sisson STEELE, b. abt 1854, "Yat Nat" (near Balmoral), S-W Victoria, Australia, d. 1892, m. Ralph BUCKHAM in New Zealand.
- Catherine STEELE, b. 1856, Popotunoa, Otago, New Zealand, d. ...?...
- George Frank STEELE, b. 1861, Popotunoa, Otago, New Zealand, d. 1861, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.
- Maria STEELE, b. 1861, ....., d. 1911, New Zealand.