The Lordship and Manor of Rushton or Rushton James (Staffordshire)

The Overlordship of the Manor of Rushton.

Before the Conquest RUSHTON, which covered the later manors of Rushton James and Rushton Spencer, was held by Wulfgeat, possibly the landholder of that name with extensive interests in Cheshire. The king held it in 1086. The overlordship passed to the earls of Chester, possibly in the late 11th century, and then to the Crown with the earldom of Chester in 1237.

Ranulph, earl of Chester (1129-53), gave Rushton to Norman de Verdun of Alton, and in the early 13th century Nicholas de Verdun held Rushton with Longsdon and Ipstones of the earl of Chester. In 1242-3 Nicholas's daughter and heir Rose (d. 1248), widow of Theobald Butler, held Rushton with Longsdon and half of Ipstones by service of providing a knight for the garrison of Chester castle for 40 days.

By the early 13th century the northern part of Rushton became a separate manor, known later as Rushton Spencer. The Verduns' overlordship was thereafter confined to the southern part, known later as RUSHTON JAMES, presumably after the Verdun's tenant there, James de Audley (d. 1272). In 1273 Rushton James was held with other manors of John de Verdun as ½ knight's fee, and in 1283 on its own of Theobald, Lord Verdun, as 1/20 fee.  The overlord in 1308 was said to be Edmund, Baron Stafford; he was overlord of Horton, which was held by the same undertenant as Rushton James. There are no further references to the overlordship.

The Audleys' intermediate lordship descended with their manor of Horton, and the lords of Horton still exacted suit of court from Rushton James in the late 18th century.

In 1308 Richard of Rushton held what was called the hamlet of Rushton of the Audleys for a rent of 10s. Richard is presumably identifiable as Richard 'le loverd', who in the early 14th century, as lord of Rushton, granted Rushton James to his nephew Henry of Bradshaw, in Longsdon. Henry's heir was his son William, alive in 1372. The later descent is unknown until 1490, when William Bradshaw sold lands and rents in Rushton James to William Rode of Congleton, in Astbury (Ches.). Rode apparently believed that the sale included the manor, which was still held by Bradshaw in 1512 when Rode petitioned for it. Rode died c. 1517 and was succeeded at Rushton James by his son William. William's son, another William, had succeeded by 1588 when he settled his lands on his son Ralph. Ralph was alive in 1611, having settled the manor on his son William in 1609. William was succeeded in 1673 by his son James, who was succeeded in 1689 or 1690 by his son Christopher.

Christopher Rode, who lived at Eaton, in Astbury (Ches.), died in 1731, his four sons having predeceased him. Under his will his estates were settled in trust for his daughters, Isabella, wife of a Mr. Herryman, and Jane, a spinster. From 1739, however, manor courts were held in the name of Anna Maria Rode, the infant daughter of Christopher's eldest son, also Christopher. Her claim to the estate was dismissed by Chancery in 1740, although manor courts continued in her name until 1748. That year, both Isabella and Jane having died without sons, Chancery decreed that the lord was Thomas Rode, son of William Rode, brother of Christopher Rode (d. 1731). In 1752 Thomas sold his Staffordshire and Cheshire estates to George Lee, a London goldsmith.

Lee died in 1773, leaving his estates to his sister's son-in-law Richard Ayton, who added Lee to his surname. In 1800 Richard and his son George agreed to sell their estates to Edmund Antrobus, a London banker. Edmund appears to have been acting on behalf of his brother Philip Antrobus of Congleton, lord of Rushton James in 1805. Philip died probably in 1816  and was succeeded by his brother Edmund, created a baronet in 1815. Sir Edmund had bought the neighbouring manor of Horton in 1804, and Rushton James descended with Horton. Manorial rights were presumably extinguished when the lord sold all his freehold land in the township between 1917 and 1926.

The medieval manor house probably stood on the site of Rushton Hall Farm. The lord's house was assessed for tax on six hearths in 1666 and was known as Rushton Hall by 1730. The present farmhouse is of the late 17th century and has 19th-century alterations.

Sponsor: Victoria County History

Publication: A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 7: Leek and the Moorlands

Author: C R J Currie, M W Greenslade (Editors), A P Baggs, M F Cleverdon, D A Johnston, N J Tringham

Year published: 1996