Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (1636-91) acquired the estate in the late 1660s and built a small house, situated west of the present Rosehaugh Mains. Mackenzie was selected as Commissioner to Parliament in 1669 and, when knighted in 1674, took the title 'Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh'. He was appointed as Lord Advocate in 1677, his prosecutions of the Covenanters (based on evidence obtained under torture) earned him the nickname "Bluidy Mackenzie" (as in Scott's "Old Mortality"). In 1682 he founded the Advocate's Library at Edinburgh. John Reid, author of The Scots Gardener (1683) worked on his estate at Shank, East Lothian in the 1680s.
A medieval name for part of the estate was 'Pittanochtie', referred to in the 1740s as the 'Hills of Pittanicty' (Roy, 1745-50). The name 'Rosehaugh' denoted lands adjoining this area. Mackenzie sold the Pittanochtie portion of the estate to a cousin, leaving the Rosehaugh portion to his direct heirs. In 1752 Mackenzie's grandson sold the Rosehaugh estate to George Ross of Pitkeerie (Mills et al. 1996, pp 13-20). Some of the avenues planted on the estate seem to date to the mid/late 18th century but little is known of the landscape at this period (Mills et al., 1996, p.102).
It was Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Scatwell, a descendant of the Mackenzie who bought the Pittanochtie lands, who built a new house in the 1790s, calling it Rosehaugh House. It stood 'on a beautiful bank, about a mile and a half from the sea, on the north side of the southern vale. It is a modern edifice, substantially built and commodious; and cost between 3,000L and 4,000L sterling.' (OSA, 1793). It lay uphill, north of the old house, with extensive countryside views (Campbell Smith, 1850). His second son, James Wemyss Mackenzie 5th Bt. (d.1843), inherited the estate in 1811, becoming MP for Ross (in 1824) and Lord Lieutenant. His marriage with Henrietta of Suddie, (property west of Rosehaugh), brought additional lands into the estate. He built a range of new farm buildings at Rosehaugh Mains, in 1812. In 1820 a new 'parliamentary' road from Munlochy to Avoch (now the A832) cut through some of the estate fields. This led to construction of a new approach - the West Drive.
His only son, James John Randall Mackenzie (1814-84), who married Lady Anne Wentworth in 1838, succeeded him. They embarked on an extensive building programme, adding to the shooting lodge at Kinlochluichart, extending the Mains Farm, building new stables, lodges and keepers' cottages at Scatwell, and new lodges and cottages at Rosehaugh. He extended Rosehaugh House and laid out a new garden, designed by C H J Smith, in 1844. Smith, an Edinburgh landscape gardener, proposed a series of formal parterres on terraces, laid out to the south of the house. Although these were not built, the six-acre Walled Garden alongside a Gardeners House to the east of the house was built between 1844-50. By 1850, there were in all seven entrance lodges to the estate, substantial gardens and pleasure grounds enclosed to the north by a random-rubble wall with gateways (Campbell Smith, 1850). A formal walk led eastwards through an avenue to a lodge (possibly originally associated with neighbouring Avoch House) and on to Avoch (Campbell Smith, 1850).
During the 1850s various properties were sold to repay existing loans, but by 1862, the 6th Bt. of Rosehaugh was bankrupt. He sold the estate in 1864, leaving for France, where he died in 1884.
James Fletcher (1807-85) bought the estate. The Fletchers, previously called 'Jack', were from Avoch, although James was born and educated in Elgin. He founded a trading company, Jack Bros. in Liverpool, with his brother John Fletcher of Dale Park, near Arundel (1795-1837). By the mid 19th century, of the four firms controlling British-Peruvian trade, Jack Bros. (Liverpool) and Gibbs & Co. (London) were the most prominent. Their staple product of trade was alpaca, llama and vicuna wools, imported from Peru and in demand by the worsted industry for ladies clothing. James promoted the business in Arequipa, returning in 1845. He bought the Rosehaugh estate (by then 6,400 acres) for £145,000 and ultimately increased its acreage to 10,600 acres. He continued to direct his Liverpool business but exerted formidable energy in remodelling and running his new estates, including other properties at Fern Estate and Letham Grange, both in Forfarshire. In addition, he invested in mines and railways, particularly the London and North-West Railway Company.
At Rosehaugh, his programme of land improvement included draining Loch Scadden above Avoch. Altogether, out of 887 acres of moor and heath, he reclaimed 600 for arable cultivation in four years. He enclosed, drained or planted over 3,300 acres of waste and improvable land. Estate farms were rearranged to form larger economic units of 100-150 acres, with Rosehaugh Mains made a 500 acre farm.
He commissioned Alexander Ross to alter the house by encasing it completely, adding a porch to the south and a conservatory to the east. Ross also remodelled the stables and designed the West Lodge. The full extent and detail of the work carried out by Ross is unknown, but is likely that this constituted a major building phase.
The designed landscape was extended eastwards. The entrance lodge along the east drive had, by 1871, become an 'incident' along the route comprising a Summer House with ornamental garden. A new East Lodge was built to terminate the drive.
On James Fletcher's death in 1884, James Douglas Fletcher (1857-1927) inherited Rosehaugh estate, Woolton Hill House, Liverpool, and a vast fortune. His capital derived from estates in Ceylon – 2,926 acres producing tea and 1,011 acres producing rubber - the basis of the Rosehaugh Tea & Rubber Company. Fletcher's impact on the estate and Avoch was dramatic. Remodelling of the estate, house and pleasure grounds took ten years, cost £250,000 and exceeded any other contemporary building project in the country at that date (Mills et al., 1996 p.95). Initially, William Flockhart (1854-1913), a Glasgow-trained architect, with his own practice in London, was commissioned to undertake a major internal refurbishment of the house, completed in 1893. He was then commissioned to remodel and encase the exterior of the house, extend it eastwards with a new wing and to design a range of ancillary estate buildings. This major project took place between 1898-1903. Flockhart's design for the house achieved 'grandeur in a fine composition, the design of which is based on what is best in the French Renaissance' (Gifford 1992, p.448).
After 1901, Flockhart was assisted by his son-in-law and partner Leonard Rome Guthrie, who replaced S.D. Adshead as Clerk of Works at Rosehaugh.
One of the first projects that Fletcher seems to have undertaken, in 1885, was the installation of a range of Mackenzie & Moncur glass-houses extending the full length of the Walled Garden on the north. These glass houses of teak, with bronze fittings and mosaic floor tiles, were used by the manufacturers to illustrate their trade catalogue. One housed a Fernery.
Fletcher laid out extensive pleasure grounds and gardens. West of the house, the Killen Burn was dammed to form a lochan (Killen Lake) for boating, fishing and duck shooting. This involved moving and re-housing families from Milltown, north-west of Rosehaugh House. The dam formed a series of waterfalls called the Horseshoe Falls, and powered an electricity generator. A timber boat-house ornamented the north shores of the loch.
Formal gardens were laid out to the south of the house, consisting of a series of balustraded terraces with flights of steps, ornamental gates and urn-topped piers. Flower-lined paths led from the terraces to an ornamental loch, built in 1893, with an artificial island, boathouse and lochside walks. By 1885, a tradition of public access had been established, a topographic guide stating that people could 'At all times..ramble freely through any portion of his splendid grounds and magnificent gardens …'(Beaton, 1885). The gardens were open for fetes, shows and local events. The Head Gardener, William Mortimer Moir, joined his staff in 1892 and remained at Rosehaugh until 1920.
A range of estate housing and ancillary buildings was constructed, entrance lodges, a Dairy (housing a registered Jersey herd), Game Larders and Kennels.
Following Fletcher's death in 1927, his widow, Lilian Maud Stephen (d.1953) commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to design a family burial enclosure and monument. With no direct heirs, the house, home farm and policies were inherited by Mrs Shaw-Mark of Newhall, a niece. The house was put up for sale in 1943, but then withdrawn and, after the War, it was sold to the Marquis of Bute. In 1954 the estate was bought by the Eagle Star Insurance Co. and, their interest being in the farms, Rosehaugh House was demolished in 1959.