She was the daughter of John and Harriet Bethiah (Godfrey) Erskine. Her father was a businessman. She was educated at home by private tutors. In 1852, she married James Hazen Clement, a businessman. They moved to Newton, Massachusetts. After the death of her first husband, in 1882 she married Edwin Forbes Waters, author and owner of the Boston Daily Advertiser. They resided in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She made extensive tours in Europe, visited Palestine and Turkey in 1868, and traveled round the world in 1883/4. Her travels continued later in life.