Like many others, he joined partnerships in order to raise the capital required to set up spinning mills. These were water powered (usually utilising the water frame invented by Richard Arkwright), and thus located by rivers and streams in country districts. Thus Peel and Yates set up a mill and housing for their workers at Burrs near Bury. As elsewhere, the shortage of labour in the rural districts was mitigating by employing pauper children as 'apprentices', imported from any locality that wanted them off their hands. They were housed in a kind of hostel.
In politics, he was a staunch 'Church and King' man - in other words, a Tory. This was unusual, as many of the Lancashire mill owners were nonconformist and radical in their outlook. He was a paternalist towards his workforce. When elected Member of Parliament for Tamworth, he carried these principles into political life. He was responsible for the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, legislation that tried to limit the number of hours the children worked in the mills, and obliged the mill owners to privide some form of schooling.
In later years, he purchased property near Tamworth and started to adopt the lifestyle of a country gentleman, far removed from his roots.
After the death of his first wife, Peel married Susanna Clerke (sister of Sir William Clerke) on 18 October 1805. The marriage was unsuccessful and the couple eventually separated, with Susanna moving to Warwickshire. She died on 10 September 1824. Sir Robert was at the time unwell and his children represented him at the funeral.