Speaker of the Cinque Ports
The Speaker acts as chairman and principal representative of the Confederation.
The office is held (ex officio) by the mayor of each of the head ports and two ancient towns, in turn. It passes from one town to the next, on 21 May each year, by a process quaintly described as ‘septennial revolution’.
The Earliest Speakership
It is not known exactly when the office was first created, but it has certainly existed continuously since 1357.
Thus, it is older than the Speakership of the House of Commons, which dates from 1376. For centuries, these were the only two offices with that title but, in more recent times, it has been adopted for the chairperson of a number of legislatures based on the Westminster model and, since 2006, for the presiding officer of the UK House of Lords who replaced the Lord Chancellor in that role.
The Speaker’s Badge
As a symbol of his or her office, the Speaker of the Cinque Ports wears a silver-gilt badge depicting the Ports’ coat of arms, encircled by an anchor and cable and surmounted by a coronet. Around the perimeter are 14 diamonds representing the member towns.