Sir Robert Adair GCB was a distinguished English diplomat, and frequently employed on the most important diplomatic missions.
He was the son of Robert Adair, sergeant-surgeon to George III, and Lady Caroline Keppel, daughter of Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle. He was educated at Westminster School and the University of Göttingen, and then studied law at Lincolns Inn, but hardly practised as a barrister.
He hoped to gain office as Under-secretary of State to Charles James Fox, but he was in opposition. Following the French Revolution, he travelled in Europe, visiting Berlin, Vienna, and St Petersburg to study the effects of the revolution and equip himself for a diplomatic career.
He became Whig Member of Parliament for Appleby and Camelford.
In 1805, he made a disastrous marriage to Angélique Gabrielle, daughter of the marquis de l'Escuyer d'Hazincourt, but this kept him out of office when Fox returned to government. Instead Fox sent him to Vienna. In June 1808, George Canning transferred him to Constantinople. He was created a KCB in that year for his services there. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1828.