Elphinston, William was born at Glasgow in 1431, studied in the university of that city, and obtained the rectory of Kirkmichael. He subsequently was professor of civil and canon law at Paris and Orleans for nine years, and on his return (1471) was appointed rector of the University of Glasgow. He afterwards became successively member of Parliament and of the Privy Council, ambassador of James III to France, and bishop of Ross, from whence he was transferred to Aberdeen in 1484. As bishop of Aberdeen he was twice sent on a diplomatic mission to England. In 1488 he was for several months lord chancellor of the kingdom, and subsequently, on returning from an embassy to Germany, he was appointed to the office of lord privy seal. He secured the foundation of the University at Aberdeen, for which pope Alexander VI gave a bull dated February 10, 1494. King's College was in consequence erected in 1506, and Elphinston contributed 10,000 pounds Scots towards it, and the building of a bridge over the Dee. He died October 25th, 1514, while negotiations were pending with the court of Rome for his elevation to the primacy of St. Andrew's. He wrote a book of canons, the lives of some Scottish saints, and a history of Scotland, which is preserved among Fairfax's MSS. in the Bodleian Library. — Hook,
Ecclesiastes Biography, volume 4; Oudin, De Script. Ecclesiastes 3:2670.