Very little is known of the history of the area before the Norman Conquest in the 11th century, but Bronze Age rock carvings in the area suggest that there might have been some settlement at that time.
It is thought the shallow crossing of the River Till which gave the village its name, was probably a crossing place for monks and nuns travelling between the monasteries at Iona and Lindisfarne during the Anglo-Saxon period.
Written records for Ford begin after the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the introduction of the manorial system when the manor of Ford was held by the Heron family. A substantial stone castle was built at Ford in 1287, to protect the manor from the constant border warfare waged between the Scots and the English during the medieval period. South-west of the castle are the remains of the Parson's Tower, a medieval pele tower which was once the home of the local parson.
In 1513, James IV of Scotland made his base at Ford Castle, prior to the Battle of Flodden, the biggest battle between the two nations. James was killed, along with 9,000 of his men. After Flodden, peace came to the area and by the 19th century, Ford was a thriving agricultural and forestry community. Ford Castle had been rebuilt in the 1760s and, in 1859, Louisa, Marchioness of Beresford inherited Ford Estate on the death of her husband, the 3rd Marquess (who in turn, had inherited it from his mother, Susanna, Marchioness of Waterford). Lady Louisa Waterford, a gifted amateur watercolorist with an interest in the welfare of the tenants on the estate, rebuilt the village. A new school was built which today is the Lady Waterford Hall, decorated with wall paintings by Lady Waterford (opens daily at 10.30 am). The 12th-century church of St Michael and All Angels was restored.
The estate was bought by James Joicey, 1st Baron Joicey in 1907 and it remains in the ownership of the Joicey family today.