In 1868 Robert Gourlay, JP, LL.D, married Mary Brown Hastings, daughter of James Moffat of Sanquhar. Together they had three sons and two daughters. However, Mary died in 1877 and Gourlay was remarried in 1899 to Jane MacPhail, the youngest daughter of Duncan MacPhail, a Glasgow cotton spinner.
Robert Gourlay was the manager of the Bank of Scotland in Glasgow. He was educated at Glasgow High School and at the University of Glasgow. He entered the Laurieston Branch of the Bank of Scotland, of which his father was agent, in 1856. In 1861 he was transferred to the head office in Edinburgh. He returned to Glasgow in 1865 as sub-agent to his father. In 1869 he was appointed sub-manager at the Glasgow Head Office. In 1879 he became manager, retiring in 1905.
Gourlay was director and honorary treasurer for a number of philanthropic enterprises and was made Justice of the Peace for the County of the City of Glasgow. In 1900 he was elected Lord Dean of Guild. In 1901 Glasgow University conferred on him the degree of LL.D.
Gourlay was admitted as a lay member of Glasgow Art Club on 28 February 1887. He was among those Glasgow painters who in 1891 appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy JW's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) (#12326). He was elected a Trustee on 28 February 1892, and resigned his membership on 26 October 1915. At that time he was living at 11 Crown Gardens, and earlier, at 5 Marlborough Terrace, Glasgow.
Glasgow contemporaries at the dawn of the XXth century, Glasgow, 1901; Eyre-Todd, George, Who's Who in Glasgow in 1909: a biographical dictionary of nearly five hundred living Glasgow citizens and of notable citizens who have died since 1st January 1907, Glasgow, 1909; Bell, Peter, Who was Who in Edwardian Scotland, Edinburgh, 1986.