Bishop and statesman. Born illegitimate in Glasgow, he was brought up by his father and the clergy in Glasgow Cathedral. Having been deprived of a mother, he developed a strong religious devotion for the Virgin Mary, which continued throughout his life.
He was educated in France and took senior office under King James III (1452-88), and continued as Ambassador to France under King James IV (1473 - 1513).
Elphinstone is best known for his association with Aberdeen, founding the University there as King's College (1494). He added a central tower and choir to St. Machar's Cathedral (both subsequently lost), prepared the Breviarium Aberdonense as a replacement liturgy for Scotland (1509) and was offered the post of Archbishop of St. Andrews (1514), but died in Edinburgh before he could be installed.