Robert Jameson was the son of Robert Jameson, a hospital seargent in the 79th Regiment, and his wife Jane, born Bentley. Robert junior spent eight years of his youth at Gibraltar and four years in Canada, where his father did military duty. He declined a military career and in 1856 arrived in Durban, where he settled for life. After a few years he started a business for manufacturing preserves, condiments, etc. under the name Jameson & Co., and expanded it into a well known business over the next half century. He retired in 1918. Earlier in his career he served as an officer in the Durban Mounted Rifles for about ten years, and received a medal for his service during the Anglo-Zulu War (1879). In 1876 he became a member of the Durban town council, serving first to 1881, then from 1889 to 1891, and again from 1893 to his retirement. During 1895 to 1897 he was Mayor of Durban. From about 1884 he was chairman of the town's Sanitary Committee and for 33 years worked hard for the improvement of sanitary conditions. During the early eighteen-nineties he served on the management committee of the Durban Museum. From 1895 to 1910 he represented Durban in the Natal Legistative Council.
Jameson developed an interest in aboriculture and suggested that trees be planted in the city streets. The parks of Durban also came to reflect his contributions. He joined the Durban Horticultural Society and was its secretary from 1867 to 1871. From 1867 to 1882 he was a member also of the committee of the Natal Agricultural and Horticultural Society, which managed the Natal Botanic Gardens in Durban, serving as honorary secretary for some years. When the management of the botanic gardens was taken over by the newly established Durban Botanic Society in 1883 he served on its committee, for some years as honorary treasurer or honorary secretary, to the end of the century or beyond. He was also a member of the Natal Microscopic Society - the only one of its kind in southern Africa - which flourished in Durban from 1878 to about 1885.
When gold was discovered at Barberton in 1884 Jameson went there and became one of the founders of the Moodies Gold Mining and Exploration Co. On his return to Durban he brought with him seeds or plants of the Barberton daisy which were grown in the Durban Botanic Gardens by J.M. Wood*. Plants were later sent to Kew Gardens, where the species was named Gerbera jamesonii in his honour.
Jameson wrote some articles for the Natal Mercury which were reprinted in pamphlet form. One of these, Rough notes of a run to Kimberley (1885) describes his journey to Kimberley and the return via Cape Town. Another, Rough notes of a trip to the Transvaal gold fields (1886) deals with his visit to Barberton. A third, A few rough notes from sea (1887) is an account of a voyage to England. Jameson Park in Durban was named after him. He was suvived by his wife Catherine Walton Jameson and eight children.