The earliest recorded reference to the surname is in 1180 when Don-Richereld du Don from Normandy is mentioned. This, then, would seem to be a family which came from France with William the Conqueror, and which has been granted lands in his kingdom.
The earliest owners were the de Morville family, who were dispossessed, and the lands given to the Black Douglases when the de Morvilles backed John Balliol against Robert the Bruce in the kingship dispute.
When the estates of Newton came onto the market in 1648, Alexander Don bought them and later retitled himself as the first Don of Newton-Don.
Alexander Don of Newton was a Baronet of the Restoration. He was created 1st Baronet on 7th June 1667.
He inherited Auldtounburn and Plenderleith from his cousin Patrick Don in 1672.
He had three sons, James who succeeded him, Alexander of Rutherford, later Sir Alexander, and Patrick who married Anne the daughter and heiress of Sir John Wauchope. Sir Alexander had Rutherford, in Maxton Parish, bought for him by his father, but he died without issue. The Rutherford lands then passed to his nephew, Alexander, James's only son.
The 2nd Baronet was Sir James Don. He married Marian Scot of Gorsenbury who bore him one son, Alexander.
The 3rd Baronet was Sir Alexander who married Margaret daughter of John Carre of Cavers and West Nisbet. They had four sons, Alexander, Thomas, Patrick and James.
The 4th Baronet, also Sir Alexander Married Mary, daughter of John Murray of Philiphaugh and had one son, Alexander, and two daughters.
The 5th Baronet, Sir Alexander, born 1751, married Lady Harriet Cunningham in 1778. They had a son, Alexander and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary. Tragedy struck the family when, on 12th June 1795, both girls, along with a friend, were drowned while crossing the River Eden below their home.
The 6th Baronet was Sir Alexander, born 1779, succeeded in 1815. He married twice. He was responsible for the rebuilding of Newton Don and the laying out of the policies and grounds. The expense however was such that he could not pay the bills and the estate was sold off in portions. He died when his son, William was only eleven months old.
The 7th Baronet was Sir William. Having succeeded at such an early age, his minority saw much of the estate being sold off. By 1846 it had been reduced by almost two thirds and in 1847 the whole remaining estate was sold off to clear his debts and liabilities.
Thus ended the relationship between the Don familty and the Newton estate, the name, however still being kept as Newton-Don to this day.
The Baronetcy resides now with the family of Don-Wauchope of Edmondstone.
The Balfour family bought the estate in 1847, Charles Balfour of the Whittinghame family being the new owner of the 1300 acres. The estate remains in the Balfour family to this day.
The present house, designed by Robert Smirke, and built between 1817 and 1820 was used during the both World Wars as hospital accommodation for wounded soldiers.
Evacuees from Edinburgh came to live there during the Second World War. Ronnie Corbett, the famous comedian, along with his mother and his brother, came to stay with Mrs Ferguson in one of the gamekeepers' cottages on the estate. He only stayed there for six weeks before returning to Edinburgh.
During the 1970's alterations were made to the house, internally, allowing the main part of the house to be used for functions etc with the family using the rest as their home. It is open to the public, occasionally, on specific set days. The present owners are William and Carrie Balfour and their sons, Dan and Archie.
Nothing remains of the 'new toun'. The buildings which make up the Home Farm and the Stables, are much more modern, probably part of the rebuilding and re -siting of the 1820's. Within the grounds, which are private, are interesting structures, including a castellated electricity generating house, powered by the Eden.
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