Robert was born on the 24th May 1867 to Josiah and Alice who lived at Astley Green, Astley (near Leigh), Lancashire. He was baptised at St. Stephen’s Church in Astley on the 4th August 1867. Father Josiah was a Collier. Mother Alice was a housekeeper and sisters Emma and Sarah went to school according to the 1871 Census. All lived in Higher Green, Astley.
By the 1881 Census, Father Josiah had passed away, leaving mother Alice as the head of the household. Robert was now at 13 working as a Pit Bank Labourer, whilst his two bigger sisters were both Fustian Cotton Weaver Power Loom operators.
By the 1911 Census Robert was thought to be living at the Dutton Workhouse where he was a casual inmate which normally meant that he was using it as lodgings. He is listed as a general labourer and unmarried.
Come the 1918 Electoral Roll, Robert is as an absent voter being away on military service, his home being at Cotton’s Bridge, Preston Brook.
On the Spring 1919 Absent Voters List, Robert is noted as Private 45940 R.D.C. 315 Co.(Royal Defence Corps).