William was born about 1816 in Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland, the son of Robert Simpson and Margaret Borland.
!Source: Census of Scotland 1841 & 1851. Listed as living with Sister Rebecca Simpson and brother-in-law Cornelius Hotchkiss. Occupation coal minor. In 1841 he was said to be 25 in 1851 he was said to be 40.