Robert Stevenson Horne was born on 28 February 1871 at Slamannan, Stirling, Scotland, the younger son of the Rev R S Horne, minister of the parish of Slamannan, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Lochhead of Toward, Argyll & Bute, Scotland. He was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, Scotland, and the University of Glasgow , where he studied Arts and Law. He was the John Clark Scholar in Philosophy 1892 and graduated MA with first class honours in Mental Philosophy in 1893. He held the Ewing Fellowship at the University of Glasgow in 1894 and graduated LLB in 1896 . He was elected president of the Glasgow University Conservative Club in 1891 and president of the Glasgow University Students' Representative Council in 1892. In 1895, Horne was appointed lecturer in Philosophy at the University College of North Wales. He was then called to the Scottish Bar and admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1896. From 1896-1900 he was an examiner in Philosophy for the University of Aberdeen , Scotland.
In January and December 1910 he stood as Conservative candidate for Stirlingshire, Scotland. During the 1914-1918 World War, he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Royal Engineers, working alongside Sir Eric Campbell Geddes, as Assistant Inspector-General of Transportation in 1917. This was followed by a number of further senior posts, including Director of the Department of Materials & Priority (1917); Director of the Admiralty Labour Department (1918); and Third Civil Lord of the Admiralty (1918). He was elected Unionist MP for the Hillhead division of Glasgow in December 1918, and was immediately appointed to the Cabinet under Lloyd George: he was made Minister of Labour in 1919; President of the Board of Trade in 1920-1921; and Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1921and 1922. However, in 1922, he did not accept office in the new administration of Bonar Law because of his loyalty to Lloyd George and thereafter remained a backbencher until 1937 , when he was granted a peerage, becoming Viscount Horne of Slamannan. On his resignation from the Cabinet he became involved once more in the City, and held directorships of the Suez Canal Co Ltd, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Lloyds Bank, and the Commercial Union Assurance Co. In 1934, he became Chairman of the Great Western Railway Co. A number of honours were conferred on him, including: the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh; KBE in 1918; and GBE in 1920. He was Lord Rector of the University of Aberdeen between 1921 and 1924 and was conferred honorary degrees from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Birmingham. Lord Robert Stevenson Horne died at Farnham, Surrey, England on 3 September 1940 .