Charles, Robert Henry (1855–1931), Biblical scholar, was born 6 August 1855 at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, probably in Loy House, fifth of the seven sons of Dr David H. Charles and Annie E. Charles (née Allen). He attended Belfast Academy and won a scholarship to QCB, from which he graduated BA (1877) and MA (1880) with first-class honours in classics. He entered TCD as a scholar in 1880, won prizes and exhibitions in classics and theology, and was ordained deacon in 1883 and priest in 1884; he was a curate in London parishes 1883–9. After a year in Germany, he worked in Exeter College, Oxford, becoming one of the world's leading authorities on all the biblical languages, especially Ethiopic. He lectured in Oxford and London, and was professor of biblical Greek in TCD, 1898–1906. From 1893, when the Book of Enoch appeared, he published a very large number of scholarly editions, commentaries, and translations of Apocalyptic texts, and was the editor of the Oxford edition of the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. In 1906 he published a definitive edition of the Book of Enoch. His linguistic competence was balanced by theological insight: as Jowett lecturer (1898–9) at Oxford, for instance, he dealt with the Jewish doctrines of the afterlife. The lectures were published in 1899 (2nd ed. 1913). He also wrote on contemporary moral questions, as well as articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He became canon of Westminster in 1913 and archdeacon in 1919, and some of his sermons were published; he was awarded honorary degrees by QUB (1923) and by Oxford (1928), and in 1925 was awarded the first medal for Biblical studies by the British Academy, of which he had been a fellow since 1906.
He married (1 February 1886) Mary Lilias, daughter of William Bence-Jones (qv) of Lisselane, Co. Cork; they had met in Germany. The marriage was childless, but they brought up several nieces. Charles died in London, 30 January 1931; a car accident in 1929 had left him an invalid. His brothers Sir Richard H. Charles (qv) and John J. Charles (qv) were both leading anatomists.