group of towns (orig. five: Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich) on the SE coast of England: they formerly (11th-15th cent.) received privileges in return for providing naval defense at a time when England had no navy
See Cinque Ports in American Heritage Dictionary 4
A group of seaports of southeast England (originally Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich) that formed a maritime and defensive association in the 11th century. They reached the height of their significance in the Anglo-French conflicts of the 14th century.