The name is derived from Old English "Mearca's Farm". The spelling was Marcheton in 1086.
After the Norman conquest the manor of Markeaton which had been held by the Anglo-Saxon Siward, the Fairbairn Earl of Northumbria, was given to Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester, along with chevinetum, Mackworth and Allestree.
It finally passed to John the Earl of Huntingdon and Cambridge who died in 1237, his only heirs being his sisters. To prevent the estate passing to women, it was bought by the Crown in 1246. It was held by various members of the Royal family, including the Black Prince until his death in 1376 when it returned to the Crown.
In the early 14th century the Mundy Family purchased land, Sir John Mundy was Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1522. The village land was enclosed by the Mundys during the 18th century, forcing many of the villagers to move their homes (literally "Up Sticks") outside the enclosed land.