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Belleisle House and estate, Ayr

In 1754 Ayr Town Council sold the lands which made up the Barony of Alloway, and the parts of the Netherton of Alloway which would become Belleisle Estate were purchased by Dr Alexander Campbell and William Donald, a merchant.

Alexander's property passed in 1765 to his brother, Edinburgh lawyer Archibald Campbell of Grimmet. In 1775 it was inherited by Archibald's nephew Dr John Campbell of Wellwood, who had made his fortune from coalmining and tobacco trading. Dr Campbell was ruined by the failure of the Ayr Bank, and in 1787 his property and William Donald's were both acquired by Hugh Hamilton of Pinmore, a nephew of the Robert Hamilton who had built Rozelle House nearby. Hugh then built the mansion which forms the core of the present Belleisle House. He had returned to Scotland a rich man after spending many years in Jamaica as manager of the family's Pemberton Valley sugar plantation there. It has sometimes been stated that Hamilton named his new estate Belleisle after a sugar plantation in Jamaica, and there was a plantation of that name on the island. However, the 1775 Armstrong Map of Ayrshire depicts a house named 'Belisle' in the approximate location of the present house long before Hugh Hamilton came on the scene, indicating that it was one of the Campbells or William Donald who first used this name for the property.