|In return for the rights and privileges
granted to them by various Royal Charters, the Ports were required to
provide a total of 57 ships, each
with a crew of 21 men and a boy, for 15 days a year. They could be
called upon to fight in time of war, or to transport the King, his entourage
and armies, to and from the Continent.
In order to fill their obligation, the Ports turned to neighbouring towns and villages to provide ships and men, in return for which they were allowed to share in the privileges granted to the Ports. The "Antient Townes" of Rye and Winchelsea were originally "Corporate Members" of Hastings, with their own charters from the Crown, but were admitted as full members of the Confederation with equal status to the main Ports after Hastings harbour became silted up, along with most of the others, after the Great Storm.