to The Guild of Scholars of the City of London
The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers rank fourth in the Livery Companies of the City of London order of precedence.
The Fishmongers of London were recognised as an organised community long before Edward I granted their first charter in about 1272. This, and other charters granted in the reigns of Edward II and III, maintained that no fish could be sold in London except by the ‘Mistery of Fishmongers’. The Fishmongers enjoyed a period of great expansion in the 14th Century. With a complete monopoly on the sale of fish – one of the chief necessities of life in the Middle Ages – the Company’s wealth and influence had grown enormously. As well as taking a prominent part in the affairs of the city, the Company had its own Court of Law (Leyhalmode), where all disputes relating to fish were settled. The 15th Century saw the Company gradually losing its monopoly, and with it the immediate involvement with the buying and selling of fish lessened. The connection was maintained, however, and fish and fisheries remain a central part of the Company’s present day role. Today they are one of the few ancient Livery companies still intimately linked to their historic trade. Fishmongers’ Hall was destroyed by the Great Fire, rebuilt twice thereafter and then devastated by bombs during World War II but restored to its former glory. They are the organisers of the UK’s, and probably the world’s, sporting event with the longest continuous history – the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager, an annual sculling race from London Bridge to Chelsea for young members of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, first run in 1715. The Company’s constitution is set out in the historic Charters and is similar to other Livery Companies. Membership, or Freedom, of the Company can be obtained by “Patrimony”, for sons or daughters born to existing Freemen (male or female) or by “Redemption” when the Court agrees to admit an applicant for a fee. Freedom by Redemption is normally limited to persons with a close recent family connection to the Company but whose parent was not a Freeman at the time of their birth or to long-serving members of the Company’s staff. In addition each year the Company’s Fish & Fisheries Committee nominates a candidate with strong ties to the UK fish sector for appointment as a Freeman (and election to the Livery).