Rushton James was formerly a township in the parish of Leek, and later became a Civil Parish before, in 1934 being amalgamated with Rushton Spencer to form Rushton Civil Parish. A scattered settlement exists along the Leek - Congleton road and at Newtown. The name Rushton originally referred to the settlement of Rushton Marsh, in what was to become the township of Rushton Spencer, while the suffix James presumably was taken from the name of the Lord of the Manor James de Audley.
It is likely that the Manor House stood on the site of Rushton Hall Farm, where a road between Horton and Rushton Spencer crossed the Leek - Congleton road, in the centre of the township.
Dingle Brook, which flows through the centre of the township, was dammed in 1799 to form Rudyard Lake (after which Rudyard Kipling was named), a 2½ mile long reservoir built to feed the ever growing midlands canal network. The north end of the lake lies in the township of Rushton James and it was here in 1905 that the North Staffordshire Railway Company opened a station on its Churnet Valley line to provide access to the company's golf course at Cliffe Park in Horton, originally called Rudyard Lake Station the name was later changed to Cliffe Park.