Elwë was born in 1050 YT during the Years of the Trees to unnamed parents. He first appears in the history of the Eldar when he travels from Cuiviénen with Oromë as ambassador of the Teleri to see the land of Valinor. Upon his return, he manages to convince many of his people to follow him back to that country. On the Great Journey to the West, the Teleri lag behind, and do not arrive at the coast until after the departure of the moving island of Tol Eressëa. Thus, they stay in Beleriand for many years until Tol Eressëa is brought again to fetch them. By this time, Elu and many of the Teleri have grown to like Beleriand, and decide to stay there. This was when he first encountered Melian, a beautiful Maiar of the Ainur, in the woods of Nan Elmoth. Elwë saw how beautiful she was and had fallen deeply in love with her. Afterwards, he disappeared for many years causing many of his people to linger and stay in Middle-earth until he could be found.
For centuries, Elu remained lost until he reemerged as a respected lord and many of his people joined him in the great forested area of the Beleriand. Now known as "Elu Thingol", he and Melian become king and queen of the Teleri who stay in Beleriand, who then become known as the Sindar. He founded a realm in a large forested area in the Beleriand first known as Eglador (Land of the Forsaken). During these early days under the stars, Thingol and Melian have a daughter named Lúthien who had fallen in love with an Atani named Beren Erchamion. As Lord of Beleriand, he welcomed his long lost kin from Ossiriand which they would name Lindon. He was also the first elf to make contact and alliances with the Dwarves of Belegost who helped delve the caves of the great Fortress/City of Menegroth which became the capital of Thingol's kingdom. When the dwarves first became aware of Orcs coming from out of the North, Thingol was the first to know about it and not having any heavy weapons of war and would again ask the dwarves for his aid. They forged for him weapons and armour he needed to fight them.
When Melkor returned to Middle-earth, Elu led his people to victory against the hosts of orcs that were sent into the Beleriand starting what became known as the First Battle of Beleriand. Together, he and his forces successfully drove their savage enemies out of his kingdom and most of the Beleriand. After his wife set the Girdle around his kingdom which would be known from then on as Doriath, which no one could enter without his permission, Elu was outraged and wanted nothing to do with most of the Ñoldor with their war and even outlawed the use of Quenya in his kingdom. He was soon drawn into the war with Morgoth and the deadly Oath of Fëanor. When he discovered that his daughter had fallen in love with a mortal man named Beren Erchamion, Elu did not wish for the two to be wedded to each other, as he valued his daughter very highly and disliked the Atani race. As a bride-price he asked for a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth, thinking there was no way that Beren could fulfill this demand. Thus, Thingol was drawn into the quarrels over the great jewels and ultimately the doom of Fëanor.
After Húrin brought the treasures of Nargothrond to Doriath, Elu summoned the Dwarves of Belegost to Menegroth and invited them to work the treasure into jewelry, making the finest pieces that were called Nauglamír. When he saw that the Nauglamír was the second-greatest treasure of Doriath, Elu requested that the Dwarves of Nogrod set the Silmaril in it. Enthralled by its beauty and greedy for the Silmaril, the dwarves demanded the necklace insisting that as dwarf work it belonged to them. Thingol was unwilling to surrender the treasure and replies with an impertinent answer. In their anger, the dwarves slew him. Two escaped to Nogrod and persuaded the city to march on Doriath. They escaped and told a much different story to their home cities and got them to march on and sack Doriath.