The story begins with a Norman knight, Jean Francois. He was gifted the Barony of Blair, which included the 1105 tower house, in the mid-12th century by King William the Lion as a reward for services rendered. With the Barony came the title ‘Laird’ making Jean Francois the 1st Laird of Blair.
When Jean’s son, William succeeded in the late 12th century he changed the family name to Blair. He built the second tower in 1203. Both the 1203 and the 1105 towers are still standing and now comprise the central spine of the house.
The 4th Laird’s son Roger was knighted by King Robert the Bruce for his services before and at Bannockburn.
We then skip forward a bit from there to the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. John Blair (The 13th Laird) built the East Wing in the mid-16th Century also uniting the two towers unifying Blair into one grand castle.
John Blair was faithful to Queen Mary, and it is said that she stayed at Blair during this time. John Blair died in the reign of James VI.
John’s great grandson, William (18th Laird), married Margaret, daughter of 2nd Duke of Hamilton, however when Cromwell came to Scotland, William was a supporter of the house of Stuart, so they left Blair for some time. They returned early in the 1660’s and built on the South Wing, whose gables show the initials W.B. and L.M.H. 1668. William changed allegiances from King James II of the house of Stuart to support William of Orange. He raised a troop of cavalry in support of the Revolution but was captured by the Earl of Dundee and died a prisoner in Skye.
William and Margaret’s son, William (19th Laird) succeeded his father and had four children, two of whom inherited the title.
Hamilton Blair (23rd Laird) was a major in the Royal Scots Greys and carried out many improvements on the estate. His son, William (24th Laird), was M.P. for Ayrshire and planted many of the old trees still to be seen here.