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A fishmonger in Pike Place Market on the waterfront of Seattle

A fishmonger (fishwife for women practitioners - "wife" in this case used in its archaic meaning of "woman") is someone who sells raw fish and seafood. Fishmongers can be wholesalers or retailers, and are trained at selecting and purchasing, handling, gutting, boning, filleting, displaying, merchandising and selling their product. In some countries modern supermarkets are replacing fishmongers who operate in shops or fish markets.

Worshipful Company of Fishmongers[edit]

A 16th-century fishmongers stall. Bartolomeo Passarotti

The fishmongers guild, one of the earliest guilds, was established in the City of London by a Royal Charter granted by Edward I shortly after he became king in 1272. Partnership with foreigners was forbidden and the sale of fish was tightly controlled to ensure freshness and restrain profit, which was limited to one penny in the shilling. Nevertheless, the guild grew rich and, after Edward's victory over the Scots, was able to make a great show, including one thousand mounted knights.[1]

During the reign of Edward II, the political power of the fishmongers waned and Parliament decreed that no fishmonger could become mayor of the city. This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a great sum at that time.[1]

The guild was then reformed by Great Charter as the Mystery of the Fishmongers of London. They were given a monopoly over the crying and selling of fish and they regulated the catching of fish in the Thames which teemed with fish such as salmon at that time.[1] The guild still continues today as one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies.


The tools used by fishmongers include:[2]

  • pliers to pull out pinbones
  • a fish scaler to remove scales
  • a filleting knife to cut away the flesh from the bones
  • short strong knives for opening oysters and other shellfish
  • protective gloves
  • a curved knife for gutting and removing roe

Fishmongers in culture[edit]

In many countries, the fishwife was proverbial for her sharp tongue and outspoken speech. In Medieval France, the ones in Paris were known for their special privilege of being able to speak frankly to the King himself, when he ventured into the marketplace, and voice criticism without fear of punishment.

Molly Malone is a character from a popular Irish song about a young fishwife who tragically dies at a young age.

Charles Fort in his book Lo! compiles the story of the Mad Fishmonger or "St. Fishmonger", which later may or may not appear in the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. St. Fishmonger allegedly caused crabs and periwinkles to fall from the sky.

In the English translation of the Asterix series, the village fishmonger is called Unhygienix. In the film The Beach, the Island's chef has only fish as a source of meat, and is named Unhygienix in reference to the Asterix character.

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, some contend that the word fishmonger was a euphemism for a "fleshmonger," or pimp.[3][4][5]

Historic fishmongers[edit]


  1. ^ a b c John Timbs (1865), "Curiosities of the Fishmongers' Hall", Walks and talks about London, Lockwood 
  2. ^ "A few good tools", The Fishmonger's Apprentice, p. 19 
  3. ^ Steve Roth, Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country, 2009
  4. ^ Hamlet's Puns and Paradoxes, Click Notes
  5. ^ Shaaber MA (1971) "Polonius as Fishmonger" Shakespeare Quarterly, 22 (2).


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishmonger — Please support Wikipedia.
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Salt Lake Magazine (blog)

Salt Lake Magazine (blog)
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 09:18:45 -0700

As Market Street fishmonger Brad Stec says, “The market feeds the restaurant menu.” Stec is a trained chef but his father ran Market Street seafood markets for years, and when dad retired, son got the job. “I was interested in seafood and had been ...

East London and West Essex Guardian Series

East London and West Essex Guardian Series
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 04:26:15 -0700

The fishmonger now sees around 50 regular customers in Epping each week, some of whom have been with him since he started three and a half years ago. The half tonne of 40 different varieties of fish sold from his van are no older than three days with ...
Sat, 05 Jul 2014 23:13:58 -0700

SANDWICH — Joseph Murray says his friend made a terrible mistake, but not one so bad he should lose his license to sell seafood. Murray's friend is Joseph Vaudo, owner of Joe's Lobster Mart in Sandwich. Vaudo, 63, pleaded guilty in March to receiving ...
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 09:18:45 -0700

Kudan Group's Brian Laskov and Jerrod Rosen negotiated a lease at 1258 West Belmont in Lakeview for well known Restaurateur and Fishmonger, Glenn Fahlstrom. Laskov represented the acclaimed restaurateur in the transaction. Rosen represented the ...
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Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:45:00 -0700

A good fishmonger will have the 4-1-1 on everything coming into their department on an hourly basis. If it can't be local, knowing that it's fresh off the delivery truck (or plane) can still help preserve some of the flavor and even the nutrition of ...

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East London and West Essex Guardian Series
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 06:40:34 -0700

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