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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 This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a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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51775 news items

Fox News

Fox News
Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:19:38 -0700

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Malaysian court has sentenced a fishmonger to death for killing two British medical students last year on Borneo island. Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said the high court on Tuesday found Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, guilty of ...


Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:56:15 -0700

Malaysian fishmonger faces death penalty over murder of British medical students. Newcastle University students Neil Dalton and his friend Aidan Brunger were stabbed to death last year following a confrontation with locals in Borneo. Aidan Brunger and ...

BBC News

Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:17:03 -0700

Fishmonger To Die For Killing Two British Students In Kuching. KUCHING, March 31(Bernama) -- The High Court on Tuesday sentenced a 24-year-old fishmonger to death by hanging for killing two British medical students, here after a row on Aug 6 last year.
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:07:30 -0700

How does a typical day look for you—as fishmonger for the five Black Group restaurants including one fish market? In town, or out of town? Either way I'm waking up around 4 or 4:30 am. I'm on the phone all day [phone sounds, just on cue]. It's nonstop ...

CTV News

CTV News
Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:30:00 -0700

You might think that local, fresh fish from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources would be readily available to consumers in Halifax, but you would be wrong. A young fishmonger is out to change that with her shop at a north-end market, which ...

Austin Chronicle

Austin Chronicle
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:15:02 -0700

Now that they've finally opened their new fish market and casual restaurant in East Austin, business partners Roberto San Miguel and Shane Stark are only a few miles east of their former Downtown stomping grounds, but their situations have changed ...

Swindon Advertiser

Swindon Advertiser
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:08:31 -0700

Fishmonger, Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, has been found guilty of murdering two British medical students in Malaysia. Abdullah killed Newcastle University students Aidan Brunger and Neil Dalton, last August, in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. After being ...
Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:33:45 -0700

A Malaysian court has sentenced a fishmonger to death for killing two British medical students last year on Borneo island. Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said the high court found Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, guilty of stabbing to death Aidan Brunger and ...

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