Cinque Ports

From Historical Hastings Wiki

Under Edward the Confessor's reign, the five ports, Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Hythe and Romney, were formally incorporated under the government of a Lord Warden, with nearly the same privileges which they to this day, and the Banner of St. Michael of Hastings was adopted as the Banner of the ports.[1]

Post-Norman Conquest[edit | edit source]

The Ports were re-confirmed by William, with all their former privileges, in the fourth year after the Conquest. Hastings was recorded as contributing 21 ships, out of a total of 57[2]

Privileges[edit | edit source]

The Cinque Ports had an exemption from tax and tolls, the right to self-government, permission to levy tolls, punish those who shed blood or flee justice, punish minor offences, detain and execute criminals both inside and outside the port's jurisdiction, and punish breaches of the peace; and possession of lost goods that remain unclaimed after a year, goods thrown overboard, and floating wreckage.

The considerable freedom given to the Cinque Ports, and the general turning of a blind eye to misbehaviour, led to smuggling, though common everywhere at this time becoming a fairly dominant industry within the ports.

Lord Wardens[edit | edit source]

Simon de Burley

Decline in importance of Hastings[edit | edit source]

Much of Hastings was washed away by the sea in the 13th century. During a naval campaign of 1339, and again in 1377, the town was raided and burnt by the French, and went into a decline during which it ceased to be a major port. By this time, Hastings had no natural sheltered harbour due in part to coastal drift and silting up of the various waterways. There were attempts to build a stone harbour during the reign of Elizabeth I, but the foundations were destroyed by the sea in storms.

In 1229, Seaford and Pevensey were incorporated as limbs to meet quota of six ships[3]
By end of the reign of King Edward IV, Hastings was recorded as contributing 3¾ ships, Romney 3½, Sandwich 10½, Seaford 1¼, Pevensey 1¼, Folkestone half a ship, and Fordwich three-quarters.[4]


Footnotes (including sources)[edit]

  1. The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield (Thomas Cole 1864) Pg. 32 Google Books
    - 1864 ESCC Library. A later edition is also available: ESCC Library - 1884
  2. The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield (Thomas Cole 1864) Pg. 37 Google Books
    - 1864 ESCC Library. A later edition is also available: ESCC Library - 1884
  3. The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield (Thomas Cole 1864) Pg. 52 Google Books
    - 1864 ESCC Library. A later edition is also available: ESCC Library - 1884
  4. The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield (Thomas Cole 1864) Pg. 59 Google Books
    - 1864 ESCC Library. A later edition is also available: ESCC Library - 1884