Until the middle of the 18th century, Eilean Shona was populated with a number of crofters. The main house was a small hunting lodge owned, in the middle of the 19th century, by a seafaring Captain Swinburne. He collected numerous types of pine on his travels and established what became one of the most diverse Pinetum's in Europe. At the end of the 19th century Robert Lorimer, who planned much of Edinburgh's New Town, was commissioned by the island's owner, a Mr. Thompson, to remodel the main house, doubling its size.
In the 1920's J.M. Barrie rented Eilean Shona for the summer as a holiday home, where he was joined by Michael Llewelyn Davies and some friends. It was Michael, along with his four brothers, who had been the inspiration for J.M. Barrie's characters Peter Pan, the Darling brothers and the Lost Boys. Barrie is thought to have written both the screenplay of Peter Pan and the ghost story, Mary Rose, while on Eilean Shona. "A wild rocky romantic island it is too", he wrote enthusiastically to Cynthia Asquith on August 13th, "it almost taketh the breath away to find so perfectly appointed a retreat on these wild shores…. Superb as is the scene from the door, Michael, who has already been to the top of things, says it's nought to what is revealed there – all the western isles of Scotland lying at our feet. A good spying-ground for discovering what really became of Mary Rose."
In the 1930's Eilean Shona was given to Lady Howard De Walden as a wedding present by her future husband. During this period numerous improvements to the island, particularly to the grounds and gardens, were made at the beginning of the 20th century by the De Walden family
Since then, the island has been owned by 3 families and has belonged to the Devereux-Branson family since 1995.