Stirling attended the University of Edinburgh 1805-1808. During this time, the university put on no records of their students and their parents. He studied Latin, Greek, logic and mathematics.
In November 1809, Robert Stirling, decided to become a priest, and began studying theology and law at the University of Glasgow. On July 4, 1815, he examierte and was ordained the following year by the Scottish church.
On September 27, 1816, he announced in Scotland for a patent of a hot air engine, which became known as Stirling engine later. He realized in 1818 in several stages. This machine was used as a water pump in the mining industry in Ayrshire, Scotland, where it ran for two years, until the hot part of the engine blew on the cylinder.
In 1819 he married Jean Rankin, they had seven children together. In 1837 he was until his death pastor ( minister of the church ) of the Presbyterian Church in Galston. By 1840, he developed and patented several machines together with his brother James, a mechanical engineer.
In March 1843 Stirling delivered a powerful ( for its time ) motor to the Dundee Foundry Company, a foundry in Scotland. The machine had a threshold power of 34 kW at a speed of 28/min, cylinder diameter: 0.4 m, Hub: 1.22 m, water-cooled. For the first time a regenerator was used with wire mesh. The fuel consumption was only one- third compared with the steam engine with the same power used before. This engine was four years of service and had a never again reached in the 19th century efficiency of 18%.