It is known that terraces were laid out on the banks of the River Avon at Barncluith in the 17th century following the construction of the present Tower House. No documentary evidence exists as to the date of origin of the present layout and ornamentation. Recent research amongst the Hamilton papers has indicated the involvement of William Adam at Barncluith by letters exchanged between Adam and his Clerk of Works, Robert Mein, from Barncluith in 1735, 1736 and 1739. Map evidence is confined to the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps of c.1850 & 1910 and a series of survey drawings by Sydney Birnage in the 1940s.
The lands of Barncluith are first thought to have belonged to the old Norman family of Machan. William Hamilton of Rossmoor, a descendant of the Duke of Hamilton, acquired the estate in 1507 when he married Anne Machan. Their grandson, John Hamilton, inherited Barncluith on the death of his father at the Battle of Langside. He returned to Barncluith in 1583, having lived in Europe for a period. He built the present house, restored the Tower House, and laid out the terraces on the steep slope of the river gorge on the site of what was a renowned orchard.
Soon after the Union Treaty of 1707, John Hamilton of Barncluith, the Duke of Hamilton's deputy, held the appointment of Sherriff of the Lower Ward of Lanarkshire. His court sat within the Pavilion on the Terraces and tradition has it that executions took place at an oak tree which stood nearby.
Over the centuries, Barncluith was often leased to tenants, which could account for the lapse in maintenance recorded in the mid-19th century. John Campbell, a kinsman of the Earl of Loudoun, lived here in 1745. His son was the Hamilton magistrate, John Campbell of Saffronhall who, as a seedsman and nurseryman, is thought to have supplied plants for the gardens.
In the 19th century, Lady Ruthven inherited Barncluith from her Hamilton forbears. In the later 19th century, the 8th Baron Ruthven was in residence. In 1908, Lord Ruthven sold to James C. Bishop, a local coalmaster and lawyer. Mr Bishop carried out many improvements to the garden. When Hamilton Palace was demolished in 1927, various pieces of ornamentation were salvaged from the debris and incorporated as garden features. On his death, Barncluith passed to his niece, Mrs Stewart, and it was later sold to the present owners, Mr & Mrs J. Oswald Graham. In recent years the garden has suffered greatly from vandalism and maintenance of the garden has been confined to the upper terraces.