Cinque Ports 1155 to 1500
Cinque Ports
The Cinque Ports first mentioned in a Royal Charter of 1155 originally consisted of the "Ports" of Hastings , New Romney , Hythe , Dover and Sandwich.

Due to the Great Storm in 1287 AD that relocated the outlet of the River Rother from New Romney to Rye (making Rye the major harbour in the area) the Cinque Ports in 1289 AD added the "Antient Towns" of Rye and Winchelsea to their ranks. In the 15th century a further seven members of the Cinque Ports known as limbs were added these were Lydd (limb of [attached to] New Romney ), Folkestone , Faversham and Margate (limb of Dover), Deal and Ramsgate (limb of Sandwich), and finally Tenterden (limb of Rye ). A number of other towns and villages were associated with the Cinque Ports they were Faversham , Fordwich , Reculver , Bekesbourne and Stonor in North Kent . Birchington , St Johns , Margate , St Peters , Woodchurch , Ramsgate and Sarr on the Isle of Thanet . Deal , Walmer , Ringwould , Kingsdown , Folkestone and West Hythe in South East Kent . Old Romney , Lydd , Dengemarsh , Orwaldstone , ( Proomhill or Broomhill ) and Old Winchelsea on the Romney Marsh . Guestling , Tenterden , Hastings , Bulverhythe , Pebsham , Northeye , Pevensey , Hydney and Seaford in East Sussex. And finally Brightlingsea in Essex.


The federation was created to provide ships and defence of the coastline for the King before the creation of the Royal Navy by Henry VII in 1496. Because of this they were allowed a free hand to rule their own areas.

The original charter gave the members the right to :-
"Exemption from tax and tallage, Right of soc and sac, tol and team, blodwit and fledwit, pillory and tumbril, infrangentheof and outfrangentheof, mundbryce, waives and strays, flotsam and jetsam and ligan"
Original Translation
tax and tallage Exemption from Tax and Tolls
soc and sac Right to Self Government
tol and team Permission to Levy Tolls
blodwit and fledwit Punish people who shed blood or flee from justice
pillory and tumbril Punishment for minor offences
infrangentheof and outfrangentheof Power to detain and execute felons both inside and outside the jurisdiction of the port
mundbryce Punish breaches of the peace
waives and strays Take ownership of lost and unclaimed goods after 1 year.
flotsam and jetsam and ligan Take ownership of goods thrown overboard or floating wreckage.
The charter basically allowed the men from the ports to become privateers on behalf of the Crown, before the Royal Navy was founded. This led to the piracy and smuggling which became rife in the area.

The Cinque Ports had their own Courts which provided the Crown's link to the Ports, and settlements of disputes between them. The main one was held at Lympne , and was held twice per year. Two other internal courts were called when needed. One the Court of Brodhull(Brotherhood) started in the late 12th century was held in New Romney , and had representatives from the 5 Ports and 2 Ancient Towns. The second formed during the 14th century was held at Guestling , and was known as a "Guestling", and had representatives from Hastings , Rye , Winchelsea , and their limbs.

The Cinque Ports power diminished throughout the centuries, the Black Death in 1348 reduced the population drastically, the French Raids on the Ports during the 13th and 14th centuries also caused more bloodshed. The silting up of the harbours reduced the size of ships able to be called on, and finally the last straw was the creation of the Royal Navy during Henry VII reign (1485 - 1509), which removed the founding reason for the Cinque Ports .

Chief Port Corporate Member Non Corporate Member
Petit Iham (Yham or Higham) current day Pebsham,
Hydney (Hyddern eye) hidden island current day Hampden Park Eastbourne,
Manor of Grenche or Grange near Gillingham
New Romney
Old Romney
  West Hythe
St Johns Goresend
St Peters
Villages Mentioned
Broomhill (Swept away by the Storm)
Guestling (Changing guards at Buckingham Palace)
Lydd (The Cathedral of the Marsh)
Lympne (From Roman Castle to Tigers)
New Romney (Cinque Port and Storm)
Old Romney (Sheep and Wool Smuggling)
Old Winchelsea (Abandoned after the Great Storm)
Pevensey (Ancient Roman Fortification)
Rye (On the Island)
Seaford (The cormorants or shags)
Tenterden (Centre of the Broadcloth industry)
Winchelsea (Inland Cinque Port !!)
Woodchurch (Dragoons capture Smugglers)
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