On 29 June 1832, the subject of this memoir was born in Aberdeen to James and Barbara Elmslie. Their eldest child, a little girl, had been taken from them shortly before his birth, so the mother called William her “son of consolation,” and most tenderly did she cherish this first–born son during the early years of his life. The family was in tolerably comfortable circumstances, as the father a boot–closer, was a clever tradesman and had plenty of work. William's earliest memories were of a home in which his mother's presence was always pre–eminently felt as the source of comfort and love. Mrs Elmslie was no ordinary woman. She was blessed with a vigorous intellect, a large measure of common sense, much ingenuity and fore–thought and a certain combination of qualities that gave her the power to interest, to warm, to comfort and to command; and all was pervaded by the spirit of an unostentatious Christianity. Her childhood had been spent among the sea–faring people of Cromarty, amidst those scenes now made familiar to the world by Hugh Miller's sketches of his early home. Her father, William Lawrence, as captain of a vessel which sailed to all parts of the world, had an adventurous history; and the details of his experience, fresh in her own memory, were graphically conveyed to her boy; and it was his delight to sit beside her and listen to these wonderful stories. He thus imbibed much useful information; his imagination was stirred; and the spirit of enterprise unconsciously fostered. The quiet life in Aberdeen was varied by occasional visits to his paternal grandfather at Ballater and deep and fruitful impressions of the beauties of nature were gained amid the grand mountain scenery of his native land. As William was delicate, when a child, he was not much given to the romps of other boys; but preferred staying beside his mother, who was always to him a treasury of comfort and knowledge.