He was born on the 25 September at Bodgared Llanwnda. His father was a tenant farmer who held the tenancy of many smallholdings in this area during his son’s early years, before settling down at Moelfre Fawr Llanaelhaearn where he lived until the age of 95.
Robert only had a little formal education apart from what he learnt from Dafydd Ddu Eryri, however he became well known locally as a gifted wood carver. In 1830 he walked toLondonwith the cattle drovers hoping for the help of Griffith Davies, the mathematician (a relative of his mother) in looking for work. He became a member of Jewin Chapel (Calvinistic Methodists) where his Sunday school teacher was (Sir) Hugh Owen. He returned to Llanaelhaearn in 1833 and his father gave him Uwchlawffynnon which was badly run down. He worked hard but also made time to read and write verses, he learnt to read Greek, Latin and Hebrew. He became friends with Ellis Owen Cefn y Meusydd and Eben Fardd; he also came to be noticed by J. H. Cotton.
Although many of his friends tried to persuade him to go to theUniversity of London he could not leave his wife and children. He began preaching in 1838 and joined Tal y Sarn on a preaching tour, that was the year he married Catherine Hughes of Gelli, Deneio.
He was ordained in 1848 and became an unpaid minister at Babell Chapel which he built in 1857. His autobiography was published in 1893 along with some of his sermons. He died at the age of 81.