Originally, the estate of Mellerstain was
known as Whiteside, the lands of which were given by King James
II (1437-60) to Patrick Haliburton, son of Lord Haliburton. They
subsequently passed into the hands of the Haitlie family, who may
have been responsible for the building of Whiteside
Tower, a sixteenth-century fortified house which survives in
fragmentary form to the south of Whiteside Plantation.
In 1642, the lands of Mellerstain were granted
by King Charles I to an Edinburgh burgess, George Baillie of Jerviswood.
They have remained in the hands of his descendants ever since, save
for a brief period in the 1680s when they were forfeited following
the arrest of Robert Baillie in 1684 for his involvement in the
Rye House Plot to assassinate King Charles II. Robert Baillie was
subsequently hanged, and his family fled to Europe.
Robert Baillie's son, George, was restored
to his lands in 1688 when William, Prince of Orange, was crowned
King William III. In 1690, George Baillie married Lady Grisel Hume,
daughter of the
Earl of Marchmont, a friend of his father's
who had also been exiled during the 1680s. It was during their lifetimes
that the initial work on Mellerstain
House was undertaken, with William Adam being commissioned to
design both the house itself and the surrounding policies.
Work on the building of Mellerstain House
ceased with the death of George Baillie in the 1730s. The estate
passed, in 1759, via the marriage of George Baillie's second daughter,
Rachel, to George, Lord Binning, second son of the Earl of Haddington.
He changed his name to Baillie, and it was he who commissioned William
Adam's famous son, Robert, to complete the work his father had started
nearly 50 years before.