Robert Alfred Tarlton was born on 21 Apr 1828 in Birmingham, England, the son of Robert Tarlton and his wife Mary Green. In the 1851 census Robert is listed as one of three boarders at 6 College Crescent, Hampstead, London, all theological students at New College, of the Independent body. On 22 Jun 1854 at the Congregational Chapel, Camden Road, Holloway, Rev. Robert Alfred Tarlton married Caroline Walters, the third daughter of Daniel Walters, a silk manufacturer. The couple arrived in South Australia, via New Zealand, in 1858, where Robert became a successful merchant and pastoralist. He was employed by G & R Wills & Co. in Adelaide. From 1872 to 1888 he was a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia. His first wife Caroline died on 20 Mar 1865 leaving him with one son and four daughters.
Robert married his second wife Sophia Walters Turner, niece of his first wife, Caroline, in 1866 and had six sons and three daughters. The family moved to Launceston in the hope that the climate would better suit his tubercular son Tatham. In 1889 Robert and his wife and one daughter were presented to the Governor Sir Robert and Lady Hamilton at a reception at the Launceston Town Hall. The family worshipped at the Christ Church (Congregational). He was appointed a JP in 1890. In 1893, with news of gold discoveries, he and most of his family moved to South Africa where Tatham had gone for his health. Tatham, however, passed away in Dec 1894. Sophie died aged 47 on Good Friday 1913. Robert died at Erinvale, Frankfort in the Orange River Colony, South Africa, on 29 Nov 1918. See The Examiner 19 Aug 2006, p. 33.