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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 This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a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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News & Star
Sat, 24 Jan 2015 03:48:10 -0800

Officers have been informed about males who say they are selling fish and drive a white transit van. The force were called in the past couple of days by five people from the Brampton area. A spokesman from Cumbria Police said: "It's not a vehicle from ...

The Dominion Post

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Tue, 30 Dec 2014 11:35:25 -0800

The Fishmonger is an excerpt from Arnold and Joe, a novel Luke Elworthy wrote as part of his MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters. First conceived as a 'manly romantic thriller', Arnold and Joe is the story of a ...

The Star Online

The Star Online
Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:03:29 -0800

Feeling the heat: Tan and Khaw showing pictures of the buckets of poison allegedly brought by the loan sharks, during a press conference at the Penang MCA headquarters in Jalan Transfer. GEORGE TOWN: The parents of a 25-year-old fishmonger are ...
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Sun, 18 Jan 2015 03:26:15 -0800

BAYAN BARU: A 49-year-old fishmonger cheated death after one of the unidentified assailants fired a shot on him at a parking compound of a mosque today. Southwest district police chief Supt Lai Fah Hin confirmed the incident and said the man managed to ...

Irish Independent

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Thu, 08 Jan 2015 05:30:00 -0800

Tributes have been paid to a renowned Dublin fishmonger who passed away earlier this week. Ads by Google. Share. Facebook · Twitter · Google · Email. Go To. Comments. Vera Breslin (82) ran a fish stall in Dun Laoghaire for seven decades, selling fish ...

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Wed, 31 Dec 2014 16:33:58 -0800

Gladstone Fish Market owner Simon Wittingham and his son Kyle, 9, were all smiles after a belter of a Christmas period despite the competition. Mike Richards GLASEAF. Related Items. Big barra catch will bring visitor back to dam · Calm seas for fishing ...

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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 15:15:00 -0800

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Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:56:15 -0800

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