Sir Robert inherited his home from his father, Sir George MacLeish. He never understood the work his father and Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, had undertaken in the observatory of Torchwood House. When the Brethren came, he was unable to stop them taking over the house and setting a trap for the Queen. They held captive his wife, Lady Isobel, and the entire household, blackmailing him into assisting them.
After the Host escaped, Sir Robert realised the only way to salvage his name and reputation was to sacrifice himself to protect the Queen. He held the werewolf off for a few vital seconds outside the observatory, allowing the Tenth Doctor time to find a way out, before he became its final victim.