In a bizarre move, Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela are among those recommended to be made Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (emphasis on ‘recommended’, I think – can they have a chance?)
bq. The position has remained vacant since the death in 2002 of the Queen Mother, who served as the last warden to the association of 14 ports – including the original five ports of Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings.
Joe Trussler, the speaker of the Cinque Ports and the Mayor of Sandwich, has asked the Queen and the Prime Minister to consider a number of public figures, including Bill Clinton, John Major and Nelson Mandela, for the post.
For the non-British: Cinque Ports is pronounced ‘sink ports’. The Lord Warden has only a ceremonial role today. He was recommended because his appointment would improve relations with the USA and because he likes playing golf. The post is said to be considered Britain’s oldest military honour and can go to a Commonwealth citizen, which at least includes Mandela.
To quote the Kent resources page referred to above:
bq. According to the original Charter, the members of the Cinque Ports had the right to:
“soc and sac, tol and team, bloowit and fledwit, pillory tumbril infangentheof, outfangentheof, mundbryce waives and strays, flotsam and jetsam and ligan”.
I hope that no-one asks me for a translation but basically it really meant that the sailors from these Ports could do what they wanted, when they wanted and this included wrecking, grounding and plundering other ships. An extremely good foundation for the smuggling that eventually became the vocation of many of the men from around this part of the coast and these Towns in particular.