1764-1842. Scottish evangelist, writer, and philanthropist. Born in London of an ancient Scottish family, he lost both parents by the time he was ten years old. Educated in schools at Dundee and Edinburgh, he joined the navy in 1780, but soon abandoned that career to return to his Stirlingshire estate, where he gained a reputation as a farmer and landscape gardener. Converted in 1795, he resolved to devote life, talents and fortune to the Christian cause. He sold his estate, determined to finance and participate in missionary work in India, but that door was closed through opposition from the East India Company. The 1796 general assembly, controlled by Moderates,* also decided against foreign mission work, and much of Robert's money went into establishing preaching “tabernacles” and theological seminaries.
Although not best known for his preaching, he greatly furthered the work of evangelism, in cooperation with his brother James.* He was the moving spirit behind the bringing of twenty- four children from Sierra Leone to be educated in Britain for five years, and was himself prepared to assume complete financial responsibility for the project. As an active friend of the Bible Society, he challenged its circulation of the Apocrypha with the Bible in continental Europe, thus beginning a controversy that lasted for many years. His written works include Evidences and Authority of Divine Revelation (1816), and a commentary on the epistle to the Romans, based on lectures given to students in Geneva during a period of evangelistic work in Switzerland and France (1816- 19).