East of India: a soldier settler of the Central West

The small village of Rockley, 35km south of Bathurst in NSW, has a heritage that echoes of both England and India. The three locations are linked by the adventurous life of one man; soldier settler Watson Augustus Steel, whose life I began to look into in the lead up to the museum’s East of India exhibition.

Steel was born in 1789 in Wiltshire, England, the son of Colonel Thomas Steel of the 117th Regiment and the youngest of four sons – all of whom were soldiers. Following in the family tradition of military careers, Watson Augustus Steel was one of the original foundation cadets of the Royal Military College Marlow (Sandhurst) when it was inaugurated by the Duke of York on 17 May, 1802. Upon his graduation in 1806, Steel was posted to the 89th Regiment of Foot where he remained for most of his army service.

Watson Augustus Steel. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW - item MLMSS 1218/2/122

Watson Augustus Steel. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW – item MLMSS 1218/2/122

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