Elphinstone, William

Biography: William Elphinstone was born in Glasgow in 1431, the son of William Elfynston who was a graduate of St. Andrews University, and grandson of Sir William Elphinstone of Pittendreich (Moray). His mother may have been Margaret Douglas, daughter of one of the Douglases of Drumlanrig. Elfynston studied at Louvain (Belgium) in 1433, and was canon of Glasgow from 1451-1482, dean of the Faculty of Arts in Glasgow in 1468. William Elphinstone was educated in Glasgow and graduated M.A. there. He was then ordained and became a rector of St Michael's Church, Trongate in 1465 but from 1469 he studied and taught in Paris and Orleans, and was a diplomat for the courts of James III (1452-1488) and IV (1473-1513) to England and the continent. In around 1474, he returned to Scotland and was made rector of the University of Glasgow and official of Glasgow. In subsequent years, he became official of Lothian, archdeacon of Lismore and Bishop of Ross in 1481. He was appointed Bishop of Aberdeen in 1483, and in February 1488 appointed Chancellor, a post which he held until the death of James III later that year. In 1492 he was made Keeper of the Privy Seal, a post which he probably held until his death. As an energetic Bishop of Aberdeen, Elphinstone's activities included alterations to St. Machar's Cathedral and starting the Bridge of Dee, but his principal and most famous work was the founding of King's College in Aberdeen, supported by a papal bull of 1494 and a royal charter of 1498. Also notable was his work to introduce printing to Scotland through the firm Chepman and Myllar. In 1514 he was offered the archdiocese of St. Andrews, but died in Edinburgh in October of that year. He is buried in the grounds of King's College, Aberdeen.

Biography Date: 1431-1514

Biography References: Mitchell; DNB; Macfarlane, L. J. William Elphinstone and the kingdom of Scotland


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