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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 This was soon rescinded though and their wealth increased further so that, during the reign of Edward III, the guild could provide £40 to the war against the French, this being a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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10295 news items

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
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 3.11 % UPS UPS 2.61 % and even Amazon.com. In New York City, letter carriers in ...


Sat, 22 Aug 2015 15:52:30 -0700

Things started to go wrong when Mr Yeo, a fishmonger at Redhill market, felt a wobble after riding up the flyover from Telok Blangah Road. The wobble was caused by Ms Le jumping out of her seat while the motorbike was in motion. He stopped his ...


Thu, 30 Jul 2015 00:21:15 -0700

Jaws dropped when a fishmongers took delivery of some-fin very different... a giant blue shark. And even experienced staff at AJ Barlow, in Birmingham, were taken back by the sheer size of the specimen. In decades of trading, only a couple of other ...

ITV News

ITV News
Mon, 17 Aug 2015 05:45:00 -0700

New quotas for Jersey's sea bass fishermen are too little, too late, according to those in the industry. The Environment Department is proposing a raft of measures to protect the species including limits on the numbers of fish allowed to be caught and ...

South Wales Argus

South Wales Argus
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 22:36:02 -0700

Cockles and Caviar stated trading in early July and its offer of fresh fish, cockles, crabs and jellied eels already has customers hooked. Business owner Rebecca Butts, 31, from New Inn, has worked as a fully trained fish monger for nine years but ...

Malaysia Chronicle

Malaysia Chronicle
Wed, 19 Aug 2015 18:38:26 -0700

A fishmonger raped a 12-year-old pupil at an abandoned house in Malaysia on Sunday but the plucky girl then turned the tables on him. According to New Straits Times, when he forced her to perform oral sex on him — she bit the man's penis until it bled.
Cape Cod Times (subscription)
Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:22:30 -0700

Brian "Fishmonger" Kelly: 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dan'l Webster Inn, 149 Main St., Sandwich. 508-888-3622. Livin' Las Vegas: 8 p.m. Friday, Bistrot de Soleil, 350 Stevens St., Hyannis. 508-534-9439. Jack Leyden trio: 9 to 11 p.m. Friday, Chapin's ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 04:37:30 -0700

Though we are all for supporting our local bakery, fishmonger or grocer, the cornershop is the unsung hero we know we can always turn to. You know the one we mean: newsagent meets supermarket, the veg shelved outside that can sometimes be a lucky ...

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