The village is mentioned twice in the Domesday Book as Hotun in the Bulford hundred. Before the Norman invasion the manor was split between several land owners. Those named included Ligulf, Northmann, Thorkil, Thorsten and Thorulf. Afterwards some of the land was retained by the Crown and others given to Count Robert of Mortain who installed Sir Nigel Fossard as lord of the manor. Soon after this, the land was in the possession of the Bulmer family. Bertram de Bulmer built the first castle in the village during the reign of King Stephen. After the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, the castle and manor were seized by the Crown before being held for the king by the Mauley family. The manor eventually to came into the possession of the Nevill family in the 14th century until 1480, when they were surrendered to the Crown. Various grants of land were made up to the 17th century when possession is recorded as belonging to Sir Thomas Ingram. The Ingram family, by way of various marriages, maintained lordship until 1904, when it passed to Hon. Edward Frederick Lindley Wood.
The name is derived from the Old English words hoh and tun, together meaning settlement on a projecting piece of land. The prefix of Sheriff is thought to arise because it was once held by Bertram de Bulmer, the Sheriff of York, who died in 1166.
In 1140, during the reign of King Stephen, a motte-and-bailey castle was built here in the Forest of Galtres by Bertram de Bulmer, the remains of which can be seen to the south of the churchyard. Those remains have been designated Ancient Monument status.
The extant remains of the stone Castle at the western end of the village were built by John, Lord Neville in the late fourteenth century. It fell into disrepair during the reign of King James I. It is a Grade II Listed Building.
The 2001 UK Census recorded the population as 1,038, of which 842 were over the age of sixteen years old. There were 448 dwellings, of which 239 were detached.