Elderslie is disputed as the birthplace of Sir William Wallace, a knight born around 1270 who served as a military leader in the Wars of Scottish Independence before being captured and executed. It was presumed that Wallace was the son of Sir Malcolm Wallace of Elderslie. The basis for this was a poem written 150 years after the time of Wallace by a minstrel called Blind Harry. Examination of the seal which was sent on a letter to Lubeck after the battle of Stirling Bridge named Wallace's real father as Allan Wallace, a royal tenant living in Ayrshire at that time.
The village was once the home to Stoddard Carpets which made the carpets for the Cunard liners RMS Queen Mary, RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 which were built by John Brown & Company in their shipyard in Clydebank. The firm also produced carpets for Queen Elizabeth II's wedding in Westminster Abbey, the ocean liner RMS Titanic and for the Concorde aircraft. A remaining example of the work which was carried out here can be seen in the circular carpet which covers the floor of the drawing room in Culzean Castle designed by Robert Adam.