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The Collaborative International Dictionary
Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports \Cinque" Ports`\ [Cinque + port.] (Eng. Hist.) Five English ports, to which peculiar privileges were anciently accorded; -- viz., Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich; afterwards increased by the addition of Winchelsea, Rye, and some minor places.

Baron of the Cinque Ports. See under Baron.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
Cinque Ports

late 12c. (in Anglo-Latin), late 13c. (in English), from Latin quinque portus (see cinque + port (n.1)). Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Romney, and Hythe, granted special privileges from the crown in return for defense of the Channel in the days before England had a navy.

cinque ports

n. A series of five historic coastal towns in Kent and Sussex; namely, Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich.

Cinque Ports

The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest. The name is Norman French, meaning "five ports". They were:

  • Hastings
  • New Romney
  • Hythe
  • Dover
  • Sandwich

However, Rye, originally a subsidiary of New Romney, changed to become one of the Cinque Ports once New Romney was damaged by storms and silted up.

Other towns also contribute to the confederation, including two Antient (see e.g.) Towns, and seven Limbs.

Usage examples of "cinque ports".

It seems that some honest mariners of Dover, or Sandwich, or some one of the Cinque Ports, had after a hard chase succeeded in killing and beaching a fine whale which they had originally descried afar off from the shore.

The chartered ships made for the Cinque Ports or whatever other harbours they had come from.

Now the Cinque Ports are partially or somehow under the jurisdiction of a sort of policeman or beadle, called a Lord Warden.

Additional effect was given to the splendor of his appearance by a canopy of cloth of gold, which was borne above him by four barons of the Cinque Ports apparelled in scarlet.

He will also have had someone waiting in Hastings and all the other of the Cinque Ports, with orders to ride to him with all haste if you are seen disembarking on English soil.

Camden observes that the town of Foy quarters some part of the arms of every one of those Cinque Ports with their own, intimating that they had at several times trampled over them all.

But I know this town as well as I know the Cinque Ports of our own land.