Known in Spain also as Roberto Steile, was born in Winchester, England in 1788. He committed to a military career at an early age, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Marines. By the time he heard of Charles Doyle‘s recruitment attempts to get volunteers into the Spanish Army in 1812, he had been serving for eleven years and was quick to sign up, mainly out of boredom, but also for a chance at glory and higher rank in the Spanish army.
Steele was involved in many battles in the last stages of the war most notably those of Bidassoa and Vera (1813), Nivelle (1813), which earned him the rank of capitan, and participated in campaigns under General Morillo in the Pyrenees until the end of 1814, becoming teniente coronel. He was rewarded with both the Orden de Carlos III (1819) and a knighthood in Britain (1817).
He remained committed to Spain after the war, carrying a message from the British ambassador in Paris to Madrid (1818) and was a member of the London committee of support to Spanish Liberals in the First Carlist war (1835). His commitment to the Spanish cause costed him dearly – literally – leading him to being imprisoned for debt in 1817 and then again for libel in 1828. Still he managed to become Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset from 1838 until his death in 1840.
Sources: Graciela Iglesias-Rogers, British Liberators in the Age of Napoleon: Volunteering under the Spanish Flag in the Peninsular War, (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014).
Author: Graciela Iglesias-Rogers, assisted in the online edition by Adam Nour El-Din Hafez
How to cite: To cite from this page, please use any style (Chicago, Harvard, etc). Our preferred citation form is: Iglesias-Rogers, Graciela, ‘Steele, Robert (1788-1840)’, The Hispanic-Anglosphere: transnational networks, global communities (late 18th to early 20th centuries), project funded by the AHRC and the University of Winchester in partnership with the National Trust, [https://hispanic-anglosphere.com/individuals/steele-robert-1788-1840, accessed – please add the date of your visit].
War and the Military ; Exile and Migration