In 1086 William Peverel held the 10 hides in Emmington which a certain Alwin had held before the Conquest. Together with Mollington (nr Banbury), this Estate formed the Oxfordshire part of the Honour of Peverel until 1235–6. In 1242–3 Mollington was still in the Honour, but Emmington was said to be held of the King. It did Suit at the Hundred Court of Lewknor, to which the Lord of the Manor owed certain dues. In 1273 these were said to be 8s Hidage and 2½d Wardsilver. As the Hundred was attached to Wallingford Honour from 1244 onwards the Manor could be described in 1394 as held of the King ‘as of his Honour of Wallingford‘. It formed part of the Honour and of its successor, the Honour of Ewelme until the mid-19th century.
Emmington, which was Rated as 1 Knight’s Fee, was unusual in being held for nearly 400 years by one Family, the Sackvilles, a Family of Norman Origin, which played a prominent part in the History of Sussex and often served as Knights of the Shire and Sheriffs for the County. The 1st known member of the Family at Emmington was Geoffrey de Sackville, the son of Jordan, a Landholder in Essex, who married Ela de Dene, a Sussex heiress, and died in 1175 or 1176. Geoffrey was of age and a Knight by about 1190. He probably did not acquire Emmington until after 1200, for between 1199 and 1203 the Manor was in the Sheriff’s hands and 4 marks Scutage were paid on the 2 Fees of Emmington and Mollington. Soon after 1200 Geoffrey de Sackville held a 2½-Fee in Oxfordshire; this must have represented Emmington, which he held in 1212, although it was then Rated as 1 Fee. He was still alive in 1228, but may have been dead by 1230 when his son Jordan had letters of protection on accompanying the King to France. Jordan died in 1232 or 1233, and the Lands which he held of Peverel Honour and the Wardship of his heir were given in Custody to Ralph FitzNicholas, a Steward of the King’s Household, who was returned as Holding the Emmington Fee in 1235. In 1242–3 the Manor was in the Custody of Nicholas Moles. Jordan’s heir was another Jordan, probably his son, and the Jordan son of Jordan who confirmed his Ancestors’ Grants to Colchester Abbey. By 1255 he was in possession of Emmington. The younger Jordan appears to have been an adherent of De Montfort and consequently, some of his Manors were confiscated in 1265. He died in 1273 and was succeeded by his son Andrew, aged about 21, who held Emmington in 1279. Andrew died probably in 1290 for in January 1291 his Widow Ermentrude had custody of his Lands and of his heir Andrew II, who came of age in about 1300. In 1304 Andrew II had Free Warren for himself and his heirs in his Demesne lands in Emmington, because of his good Service in Scotland. He was returned as holding the Manor in 1316, but died in the same year, leaving as his heir a son Andrew III, aged about 9. His Widow Joan was Granted 1/3rd of the Manor as Dower, and Custody of the other 2/3rds during the Minority was Granted to Robert de Sapey of Chinnor & Crowell in part payment of his Expenses incurred in the Scottish Wars. In 1327 Andrew had delivery of his lands on coming of age and in 1347 the Grant of Free Warren in Emmington and his other lands was renewed.
Sir Andrew de Sackville had 2 wives. By the 1st, Joan de la Beche, he had a son, Sir Andrew, who died before his father; by his 2nd wife Maud he had no children. But Andrew had 2 other children, Thomas and Alice, the children of Joan Burgess, and they were apparently Illegitimate. He died in 1369, and Emmington was then held for life by his Widow Maud, who married as her 2nd husband, Sir Edmund de la Pole, the younger brother of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. On her death in 1393, the succession to Emmington was disputed. According to the Entail, it was to go to the Right heirs of Andrew de Sackville, with remainder to Thomas de Sackville (or Burgess). Thomas, by this time a prominent Sussex Knight, who had inherited his father’s other Property, was given Possession, but his Right to the Manor was questioned by another Sir Thomas de Sackville, Lord of Fawley (Bucks.), a distant cousin, who claimed to be Sir Andrew de Sackville’s Right heir.
Thomas de Sackville of Buckhurst (Sussex) was in Possession of Emmington in 1407, when he Presented to the Church, but the Presentation of 1411 was by a group of Trustees, including the Recorder of London, on whom he had settled both Manor and Advowson. In 1426 he entailed Emmington on his son Edward, who in 1432 succeeded his father and died in 1450. Edward’s son Humphrey, for whom he had placed the Manor in Trust, lived until 1488. In the meantime the Sackvilles of Fawley had again been attempting to get possession of Emmington, tracing their Ancestry back to the 13th century Sackvilles of Emmington. There appears to have been no foundation for their claim: the 2 Families probably descended from 2 sons of Herbrand, the Domesday Tenant of Fawley, and since at least the early 12th century had been quite separate. Nevertheless, in a Case in 1437, in which Edward Sackville sued Sir Thomas Sackville of Fawley for cutting down trees at Emmington the latter unsuccessfully claimed to be the Right heir of Andrew de Sackville, as Andrew’s son Thomas had been illegitimate. On a later occasion, in the 1470s, Thomas Rookes, the husband of Margery Sackville, the heiress of Fawley, again put forward a claim. He was in Possession of the Advowson and, when Sued for it by Humphrey Sackville, claimed that it should belong to the Sackvilles of Fawley and gave a Pedigree going back 10 Generations to a Jordan de Sackville. The dispute was brought to an end in 1482, when Rookes publicly Quit-claimed Emmington Manor to Sackville, in front of 10 Emmington Tenants.
Humphrey Sackville was succeeded by his son Richard, who was Knighted and died in 1524, being succeeded by his eldest son John. His 2nd son Richard was to have an annuity of 20 marks a year from Emmington Manor. John married Margaret Boleyn, the aunt of Queen Anne Boleyn, and died in 1557; in his Will he left £1 to his Emmington Tenants. He was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Sackville, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations and for many years an MP, who on his death in 1566 left Emmington for life to his Widow Winifred, daughter of Sir John Bruges, Mayor of London, who married as her 2nd husband John Paulet, Marquess of Winchester. Sir Richard’s son Sir Thomas Sackville, who in 1567 was created Lord Buckhurst and in 1604 Marquess of Dorset, in 1577 sold to Sir George Peckham of Dinton (Bucks) the Reversion of Emmington, excluding the Advowson, and reserving to himself Hunting Rights and an annual rent of £30 from the Manor. Peckham granted Emmington to his younger son George, who in 1586, the year of Lady Winchester’s death, sold it for £2,200 to William Hampden.
Hampden, who lived at Emmington, was a cousin of the Hampdens of Great Hampden (Bucks), and on his death in 1613 was buried in Great Hampden Church. Emmington was inherited by his eldest son Richard, who was probably the Richard Hampden mentioned in the Will of John Hampden, who was mortally wounded at Chalgrove, and may have been the Richard Hampden, Lord of Emmington, who was buried in Great Hampden Church early in 1660. After his death Emmington was held by Elizabeth Hampden, Widow, under the terms of the Will of her 2nd son Richard, and she Granted it to her grandson, another Richard, who at once took steps to raise money on the Manor. In 1665 he and his wife Lettice sold it for about £5,000 to Henry Ashhurst, a Merchant Taylor of London. Ashhurst died in 1680, and Emmington was inherited by his eldest son Sir Henry, who in 1691 bought Waterstock Manor. Emmington belonged to the Ashhursts and followed the same Descent as Waterstock until about 1805, when it was acquired by Philip T Wykeham of Tythrop House (Bucks). He was succeeded in 1832 by his son, Philip Thomas Herbert Wykeham, who in 1870 inherited Thame Park. On his death in 1879 his heirs were the sons of his brother, Aubrey Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave. Tythrop and Emmington were inherited by the younger, Philip James Digby Wykeham, who married a daughter of Joseph John Henley of Waterperry. He was succeeded in 1924 by his son Aubrey Augustus Henry Wykeham, who in 1929 sold Emmington to Magdalen College, the present Lord of the Manor (c.1957).