A native of Abingdon, Virginia, son of Federal Judge Robert W. Hughes, and grandson of Governor John B. Floyd, Robert Morton Hughes (September 10, 1855 — January 15, 1940) was a president of The Virginia Bar Association and helped establish what became Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
Hughes enrolled at the College of William and Mary at age 15 and graduated with an A. B. degree three years later, in 1873. By 1877, he had earned his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School, been admitted to the bar, and established a practice in Norfolk. There, he specialized in admiralty law util his retirement in 1920. Hughes served as President of the Virginia Bar Association from 1895 to 1896 and chaired the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners from 1910-1923. A lifelong Republican, Hughes was an unsuccessful candidate for congress in 1902 and 1904. He also failed in numerous attempts to be appointed a federal judge, despite hoping to succeed his father in such a posting.
Hughes maintained close connections with his alma mater for the rest of his life, serving as William and Mary's Rector, a commencement speaker, a member of the Board of Visitors, and President of the Alumni Association. In 1920 and 1926 he received honorary doctor of laws degrees from William and Mary and Washington & Lee, respectively. Hughes also served on the Virginia State Board of Education during the early 1930s.