Dr. Steele was born at Liberton, near Edinburgh, in 1809; early in life he became Rector of Moffat Academy, and married Mary Johnstone, before coming to the Island in 1836. He established a boarding school called the Crescent Academy which, from the first, was a conspicuous success.
It occupied a site near the present Queen's Hotel but in 1868 it was burned to the ground, (along with a valuable library)
It then moved to Strathallan Hall, formerly the residence of the Earl of Strathallan, a son-in-law of the Duke of Athol. The house was altered and enlarged to suit the growing needs of the school, which continued to flourish.
His elder son James, a graduate of Oxford, was vice-principal.
After the death of his wife in 1881 Dr Steele gave up the school, selling the buildings to the Douglas Industrial Home.
Strongly associated with the Presbyterian Church in Douglas - see history; the scholars at the school worshipped at St Andrews.
Among insular scholars, were Mr. D. Maitland, Speaker of the House of Keys, A. N. Laughton, High-Bailiff of Peel, William Farrant, and Dr Thornton-Duesbery, Bishop of Sodor and Man.