Born the son of Admiral Sir George Lambert, Rowley was appointed a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in 1848. He served in the Black Sea during the Crimean war. Promoted to Captain in 1855, he was given command of HMS Scylla and then HMS Liverpool.
He was the Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station between 28 May 1867 until 8 April 1870.
He died in London on 22 July 1880.