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 This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a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


A fishmonger prepares to clean and butcher a pair of large fish in Malé.

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]

The fishwife Molly Malone of "Cockles and Mussels" fame.

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).

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishmonger — Please support Wikipedia.
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Tue, 17 Nov 2015 23:47:18 -0800

The tasting wouldn't be so out of the ordinary if it weren't for the identity of this fishmonger: The crown prince of Norway. Norway's Crown Prince Haakon. Photographer: Eduardo Zappia/Bloomberg. Crown Prince Haakon's stopover on Tuesday is part of a ...

The Star Online

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Fri, 20 Nov 2015 07:11:15 -0800

IPOH: An elderly fishmonger met was killed when a tree fell onto his van and crushed him. Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Sum Chang Keong said 66-year-old Wong Yew Khon was on his way home to Pekan Razaki from Menglembu when the incident took place at ...
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 19:56:15 -0800

According to the police the man walked into Harare SAPS to open a case of “robbbery” whe he was caught. Police spokesman Captain Frederick Van Wyk said the now accused said in his statement a man knocked at his house in the middle of the night.
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 01:37:37 -0800

A Dublin Fishmonger with three retail outlets has been declared Ireland's Young Fishmonger of the Year. George Stephens of The Fish Market in Blanchardstown was declared the winner at the final held in Kinsale last night. He told Tom MacSweeney why he ...

Hartlepool Mail

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Wed, 04 Nov 2015 07:01:54 -0800

Today, the business is a thriving fishmonger based at the Fish Quay in town, with shops as well. Success can also be measured through the firm's inclusion in a list of the fastest 50 growing businesses in the region. “You have got to make a profit. You ...

Wall Street Journal

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Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:59:18 -0700

The U.S. Postal Service is ramping up same-day delivery of everything from bottled water to fresh fish as its new postmaster general tries to better compete with FedEx, FDX -0.48 % UPS UPS 0.09 % and even Amazon.com. In New York City, letter carriers ...

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Thu, 19 Nov 2015 07:16:53 -0800

In this Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 photo, fishmonger Ryan Yokoyama catches a salmon tossed to him as ice chips trail the fish at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved genetically modified salmon, the ...

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Mon, 23 Nov 2015 23:18:45 -0800

Kaitlyn is then given the task of being the fishmonger for the day. She hands out the fish to each of the contestants, who can choose which fish they want to cook with. After a full hour, the judges call out the best and the worst dishes of the day ...

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