Robe entered the Royal Staff Corps as an ensign in 1817, following his father, Sir William Robe who was a colonel in the Royal Artillery. He was promoted first lieutenant in 1825, transferred to the 84th Foot in 1827, transferred to the 87th Foot as Captain in 1833, brevetted major in 1841, and promoted major in 1846. He fought in the Syrian campaign of 1840-1, and was military secretary in Mauritius and Gibraltar.
Robe was appointed as Governor of South Australia, being sworn in on 25 October 1845. He was not popular as the governor, as he attempted to carry out his understanding of the British government's requirement to charge royalties on the mineral wealth of the province. This was rejected by the elected members of the South Australian Legislative Council as a breach of faith. There was also trouble over the question of State aid to religion, which Robe favoured, but which was strongly opposed. After requesting to be relieved of the post of governor, he was posted again to Mauritius as deputy quartermaster. He was honourable and confident in his convictions, but too conservative for the fledgling colony of South Australia. He returned to England in 1848.
Robe was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1848, brevetted lieutenant colonel in 1847, promoted lieutenant colonel in 1853, brevetted colonel in 1854, and promoted major general in 1862. He was appointed Colonel of the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment from 1869 until his death.
He died unmarried in Kensington, London on 4 April 1871. The town of Robe, South Australia is named after him.
George Grey, Esq
| Governor of South Australia
Sir Henry Fox Young