STEELE, Anne. b. Broughton, Hampshire, 1717; d. Broughton, 11 November 1778. She was the daughter of a timber merchant and Baptist pastor. She was delicate in health as a child, and as a young woman she suffered a tragic loss in 1737 when her fiancé, James Elcombe, was drowned shortly before they were due to be married. Her quiet and apparently uneventful life thereafter gave rise to the idea that she was a suffering soul who turned her resignation into hymns. This has been shown to be a myth by Nancy Cho (Watson and Cho, 2005), who discovered a proposal of marriage from Benjamin Beddome* dated 1742, and other evidence of Steele’s membership of a lively and intelligent social circle. She...
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