We know that the Blelack estate belonged to a branch of The Gordon Clan from around 1500. One of the more well known family members was Charles Gordon who was born in 1716. Charles led the men of Coldstone, Migvie and Cromar at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. They were amongst the first to attack the English and although Charles was wounded, he managed to escape without being apprehended.
He lay low for some time before being taken in and hidden in an unused garret in the nearby Manse of Towie, with the connivance of the Minister of Lumsden, The ministers wife was full of compassion for Charles and did all she could to keep him hidden. He ventured down from the garret at night and servants and locals started to be suspicious about so called ghosts suddenly making regular appearances around the grounds. Charles quickly fled to another local house, The Mill of Gellan at Coull. From there it is believed he fled again, this time seeking refuge with his sister, Helen, at Dunnottar near Stonehaven.
He finally had the forfeited lands of Blelack restored to him in 1784 but only had legal possession for one year before he died in 1785.The original house had been burnt to the ground when it was confiscated but before his death Charles set about rebuilding it.
In 1785 the estate fell to Charles Rose Gordon, the grandson of his sister, Helen. He was known as “The Red Laird” – simply because he had light hair whereas other Gordon family members had dark hair!
“The Red Laird” sold the estate in 1794 to William Gordon of Dundee and Woodhaven Fife, no relative of the original Gordon family.
William Gordon of Dundee owned Blelack and Pronie estates from 1794 until his death 1802. He obtained a considerable fortune by his marriage, but unfortunately he invested badly and so lost a major portion of it. None of his three children had children and his son eventually sold Pronie to James Clark and Blelack to John Forbes of Newe in 1802.
John Forbes of Newe in turn bequeathed it to his relative the local minister from Strathdon for the advantage of his son, General Sir John Forbes of Invereman, who sold it in 1862 to the Lord Provost of Aberdeen. The house was accidently destroyed by fire in 1868 and The Provost in turn sold it after only a few years of ownership to William Coltman Esq . Coltman rebuilt the house shortly after purchasing the estate. The low wings on either side of the main block are the only links with the Jacobite era.
Coltman’s only daughter married John Clark of Tillypronie in 1851 and his son William B Coltman bought Deskry in 1869 and at about the same time he bought Pitellachie (sometimes called the Barony of Kinaldie).
Sir John and Lady Clark of Tillypronie had only one child, who died in infancy, so Tillypronie became the property of Lady Clark’s young nephew William Hew Coltman, the second son of William B Coltman of Blelack and Deskry, his elder brother having died in 1882, aged 21.
This young Coltman succeeded to Blelack and Deskry from his father and Tillypronie from his uncle by marriage, he would often reside at Tillypronie while he let Blelack House and the low ground to shooting. In 1922 he sold Tillypronie to Falconer Wallace, Younger of Candacraig. He occupied it until his father’s death in 1925 whereupon he moved to Candacraig and sold Tillypronie to Sir Thomas Roydon, who also bought Deskry from Coltman.
In 1945 Blelack house and estate were divided and sold off separately, with the house being converted into flats. It remains as flats to this day.
The estate was purchased by timber merchants and in 1953 was sold again to Gray’s timber merchants whose family members still own the estate today. Blelack had its own sawmill which closed in the early 1990’s. We use the old sawmill site today to process and store wood to supply to the lodges and you will often see our forester working there or indeed chugging along on our lovely old tractor to replenish your wood stores. Our handyman, Sandy, used to be the site manager at the sawmill and has some incredibly interesting stories about life at the sawmill – do feel free to stop him and have a chat about the good old days!