R. W. H. Blackwood was born in Seaforde, County Down, He was educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Queen's University, Belfast. He qualified as a solicitor, but never practised. He joined the Belfast Library and Society for Promoting Knowledge in the early 1920s and the Board of Governors in 1927. He was apponted President to the society and library in 1949. During his time as President many improvements were carried out to the library. Blackwood was a genealogist of some note, with a keen interest in local history.