Robert Harley was born in Liverpool on 23 January 1828 and died at Rosslyn, Westbourne Road, Forest Hill, London on 26 July 1910. His father, Robert Harley, was a leading lay worker among the Wesleyan Methodists. He later became a minister of the Wesleyan Methodist Association. Frequently changing residences gave only little opportunity for the son's education. Nevertheless, his mathematical aptitude developed rapidly, so that he was appointed to a mathematical mastership at Seacombe, near Liverpool, at the age of sixteen. The next year he severed as a ‘head assistant’ to a school in Blackburn. In 1854 he entered the Congregational ministry after having received his theological training at the theological Airedale College, Bradford. He was stationed at Brighouse, Yorkshire until 1868, during the last four years additionally filling the Chair of Mathematics and Logic at Airedale College. From 1868 to 1872 he was pastor of the oldest Congregational church at Leicester. Further appointments were: 1872 to 1881 Vice-Principal of Mill Hill School; 1882 to 1885 Principal of Huddersfield College; 1886 to 1890 minister of the Congregational church at Oxford, where he was made Honorary MA in 1886. In 1890 he followed a ministerial appointment in Sydney, Australia for one year. From 1892 until his resignation in 1895 he was pastor of Heath Church, Halifax. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1863.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.