Cinque Ports Pilots Part I

The first part in a fascinating history of the Cinque Port Pilots, which Trinity House became responsible for in 1854.

The Dover Historian

Cinque Port ship c13th century Cinque Port ship c13th century

The fraternity of Pilots belonging to the Cinque Ports has probably been in existence since before William I (1066-1087) conquered England in 1066. The main prerequisites to become a pilot, at that time and for centuries after, was to be a Freeman as well as having a thorough knowledge of seas, coasts and ports of the dangerous Dover Strait. The punishment metered out to a Dover pilot who lost a ship he was in charge of but survived, in those days, was to be thrown to his death off Western Heights!

In the Middle Ages there were three Societies of Pilots in England besides the ones appertaining to the Cinque Ports, these were at Deptford, Hull and Newcastle and were known as Trinity Houses. The Deptford Trinity House – chartered in 1514 – was in charge of providing sea-markers and signals that overtime developed into having…

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