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David Steel was born in Lanarkshire in 1910 and educated at Peterhead Academy, Robert Gordon's College and the University of Aberdeen. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1936 and worked in Glasgow and Fife, and as a chaplain in Belgium and Germany during the war.
In 1949 he was appointed to St Andrew's, Nairobi, where he strongly criticised the colonial government's policy during the Mau Mau Emergency and supported Africans' right to independence. During eight years in Kenya he built a new Church of St Andrew's and worked to unite the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and the Church of Scotland Overseas Presbytery for Kenya.
Dr Steel returned to Scotland in 1957 and became minister of St Michael's, Linlithgow. In 1974 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in which role he tried to bridge gaps between the Kirk's congregations and bureaucracy. After retiring in 1976 he served as a visiting professor in Atlanta and as locum minister of Kirks in Lausanne, Switzerland, and London. He died in Edinburgh on 11 November 2002.
Papers of the Rev. David Steel comprising:
Donated by Lord Steel of Aikwood in September 2017.
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. 12580.