The largest group of Elves, and the last to leave Cuivíenen, were led by two Lords, Elwë and his brother Olwë. As they traveled across Middle Earth they often stopped along the way and because of this arrived too late on the beaches of Middle Earth to travel with the other two groups to Valinor. They were called, therefore, the Teleri or "those who come last."
Elwë, wandering in the forests of Beleriand, met the Maia Melian and fell in love with her. They wandered in the forest for many years and during that time Elwë's people refused to travel west. Instead they made their homes in Beleriand, waiting for their Lord to come back to them, which at last he did. With Melian as his queen, Elwë, now called Elu Thingol, created the great realm of Doriath in which they dwelled for thousands of years.
The people of Olwë, who had waited on the beaches, were summoned to Valinor again and had decided to go when the Maia called Ossë came to them. He didn't want them to leave, for he loved them and their music, and he persuaded some of those people to remain on the shores of Middle Earth (known as the Falas.) These people became the Falathrim, with Círdan the Shipwright as their Lord. Ossë and his spouse Uinen taught them all about the sea and ship building and they became the first Mariners of Middle Earth.
Collectively, the Teleri who remained in Beleriand are referred to as the Sindar, which means "The Grey People." They all held Thingol to be their High King. There were, however, two "countries" of the Sindar, Doriath, ruled by Thingol and Melian, and the Falas, ruled by Círdan.
The rest of Olwë's people journeyed with him to Valinor. They lived at first on the island on which Ulmo had carried them over the sea. It was anchored in the Bay of Eldamar by Ossë and called Tol Eressëa, "The Lonely Isle." Eventually, though, they were persuaded to come to Valinor itself, but they remained on the coast, outside of the city of Valmar, and founded the haven known as Alqualondë. There they, too, learned much of the sea and ship-building from Ulmo and Ossë.
When the Noldor fled Valinor, they came first to Alqualondë and tried to convicne the Teleri to give them their ships, but the Teleri refused them. The Noldor then rose up and slew them, taking the ships and heading northward along the coast. It was the "kinslaying" which, more than anything else, angered the Valar and caused the terrible doom to be laid on the Noldor.
- In his early writings, Tolkien referred to these sea-loving Elves the "Solosimpi. The name "Teleri" was originally used for the first group of Elves, who later were called the Vanyar.
- The coloring of the Teleri is not clearly specified by Tolkien, although he does describe their hair as "shining in the light of the stars" and Círdan is known to have silver hair.
- The Teleri love music, and find the sounds of the sea to be musical. They are wonderful pipers and love to dance.