Robert Woodward was born February 17, 1840, the son of Robert Woodward of Arley Castle. He attended Exeter College, Oxford; matriculated January 22, 1858; received a B.A., 1861; and an M.A., 1864. He eventually became a member of the Oxford circuit Justices of the Peace for the counties of Stafford and Worcester. He married Mary Jane, elder daughter of Rev. Dawson William Turner of Liverpool, on April 29, 1874.