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Occupations - Fishmonger

Brentford fishmongers

The site includes several references to fishmongers. Where links below are to a High Street address there may not be much additional information; those to a family page may provide more personal details. The list is in in surname sequence:

Baldry at 178 High Street; also 33 High Street in 1881
Bates family at 220 High Street and in 1861 at 313 High Street; several newspaper articles refer to the family
Thomas Brown at 242 High Street in 1841; also Peter James Brown at 276 High Street in 1933
George Cheesman at 344 High Street in 1871 and 1881
George Clements at 159 High Street
Dear family - mainly fishermen but includes one fishmonger
Thomas Dob(bi)son at 54 High Street in 1851 & 1861; several newspaper articles refer to the family
Charles Earl, Old Brentford - 1866 newspaper article Elizabeth Fenney, seller of fish at 35 High Street, 1841 census
Thomas Grant, a councillor; also Benjamin Grant at 178 High Street
Mr Haines, yearly tenant of Freehold Messuage, with Fishmonger's Shop in 1817, New Brentford John Johnson at 253 High Street; also Samuel Johnson (1897-1963), master fishmonger, married into the Buck family
H Osborne, New Brentford (Royal Cornwall Gazette 8 February 1823) - bankrupt
John Shambler of New Brentford, 1826 trade directory entry; committed to Debtor's Prison (Perry's Bankrupt Gazette 21 December 1839); 123 High Street, 1841census
Shaw at 38 High Street
William Stevens, 1793 trade directory
Treadaway, John and Richard, appear in the following newspaper articles - use find to locate them
George Winckworth at 253 High Street

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Newspaper articles, 1817-1873 & 1906

The following transcriptions are from Findmpast, which gives access to the British Newspaper Archive. I am indebted to John Bayliss for locating many of the following items relating to the Dob(in)son family. I have supplemented them with other articles about fishmongers who traded in or lived in Brentford. Collectively they give an impression of what the job involved - which markets they attended, the types of fish sold, difficulties in keeping stock fresh, rivalries, instances of falling foul of inspectors of nuisances and weights and measures - and some give insights into their personal lives too.

When using the Findmpast newspaper search facilities, 'fishmonger' and 'Brentford' in the forename and surname fields brought up 63 matches (as at July 2016) and this should work for other occupations. Bear in mind the newspaper archive is growing and it is worth re-checking every 6 months or so for new content.

The Windsor and Eton Express provided much of the material below, Windsor being a place where some of the Brentford fishmongers sold to retailers or the public, hence any misdemeanours went to local courts. Windsor is around 13 miles west of Brentford - a long journey in the mid 19th century with perishable goods. Reports of the Brentford Petty Sessions were also reported in this paper.

Some questions the articles help answer:

Where did the fishmongers sell their fish?
Brentford, Uxbridge and Windsor markets are mentioned, where individuals had stalls; fishmongers also sold fish from barrows and baskets carried around Brentford

What types of fish did they sell?
There are mentions of mackerel, herring, cod, plaice, shrimps and a single salmon

Where did they get their fish?
Probably Billingsgate Market, around 10 miles east of Brentford: two articles dating 1847 and 1868 refer to Brentford fishmongers buying here. Fish used to be taken from the Thames in Brentford, but stocks had dwindled by the mid 19th century.

What else do the articles tell us?
The difficulties in trading perishable stock, particularly during the summer months, is evident as many of the articles concern cases brought against fishmongers for 'exposing to sale' unwholesome or putrid wares. The first such reference below is from 1863 but a more general search for 'Unwholesome fish' and 'Billingsgate' found a case dating back to 1823 where a cargo of 'unsound salmon' was sold 'to the great danger of the health of the purchasers'. Evidence for the growth of government inspectorates is found in these articles. The articles also show hefty fines were made, often with the alternative of imprisonment for a month or two.

Cases brought by one fishmonger against another feature, also fights and squabbles, and whilst some of the articles are presented factually, others are offered for amusement - an opportunity for the minority who could afford a newspaper to read about what the working classes got up to. Reports from 1826 and particularly 1860 come across as patronising, the latter quoting the defendant and plaintiff to emphasise the difference between their language and that used by court officials. This treatment was not restricted to fishmongers of course!

Windsor and Eton Express 12 October 1817

Freehold Messuage, with Fishmonger's Shop &c.
NEW BRENTFORD, MIDDLESEX
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, BY NORTON & HERON,
On TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1817 at Two o'clock At the PIGEONS INN, Brentford, in One Lot, by Order of the Proprietor;
CONSISTING of a capital MESSUAGE or TENEMENT, with Fishmonger's Shop in front, now in full trade; desirably situate near the centre of the Market Town of New Brentford; in the occupation of Mr. Haines, yearly Tenant.

The Premises are in good and substantial Repair, and contain two Rooms on each Floor; a small Yard, and other Appurtenances. May be viewed any time previous to the Sale; printed Particulars had at the Inns in the Neighbourhood; the Place of Sale; of T.W. Walford, Esq. Solicitor, Uxbridge; and at Norton and Heron's Auction Offices, Uxbridge and Cowley Peachy.

Morning Advertiser 6 November 1826

BILLINGSGATE AMUSEMENT
Thomas Dobson was indicted for assaulting George Betts.
The parties are both retail fishmongers attending Billingsgate Market. On the day in question, a dispute arose between them when they commenced a regular attack upon each other by pelting all the rotten fish they could find. They were quickly aided by their allies, and when the contest terminated, the complainant had rather the worst of it, and therefore indicted the defendant for the assault.

The Court reprimanded, in strong terms, the conduct of the complainant in bringing such a trampery case before them; but, as the assault had been distinctly sworn to, fined the defendant 20s.

Windsor and Eton Express 10 October 1846

Thomas Dobinson, a native of Brentford was summoned by Daniel Sexton, Inspector of weights and measures for the Borough of Maidenhead, with having, in his possession on the 7th ultimo, six weights which were deficient. At the time of the seizure, Sexton was assaulted by Dobinson, for which the latter had been fined, The magistrates now fined him 10s and costs.

The Buckinghamshire Herald printed a similarly worded piece on the same date but described Thomas as a fishmonger. It included the following addition:
The fine was paid over to Mr Broad, to be appropriated to the county fund in the usual way.

Bucks Herald 19 June 1847

John Treadaway v. Alfred Perryman
This was a claim for certain quantities of fish alleged to have been delivered by the plaintiff, who is a fishmonger living at Brentford, and attending Windsor market, to the defendant, who is a hawker of fish in this neighbourhood. The sum claimed was 3 3s, for three several deliveries, of which the defendant admitted one only, and disputed the other two.

The plaintiff swore positively that he had himself delivered to the defendant the two disputed quantities of fish on the days mentioned in his bill of particulars.

Mr Voules, for the defendant, produced a slip of paper to the plaintiff, who, without waiting to examine it, declared at once that he knew nothing about it, and after having inspected it, he persisted in the statement that it was no bill at all of his, and that he knew nothing of it, although it was, in fact, a literal copy of his own bill of particulars, as attached to the summons.

The defendant again, with equal vehemence, swore that the paper produced was the very bill which the defendant [should this be 'plaintiff'?] had given to him at a subsequent period in Billingsgate market, when he at once objected to two out of the three items contained in it.

His honour said that he viewed with suspicion the circumstances of the plaintiff having repudiated the paper in question, which there appeared to be no reason for his doing, as well as his manner altogether with reference to it, and under all the circumstances he should make an order on the defendant for payment by him of 1 4s, the amount admitted by him, without costs, with liberty to the plaintiff to take out another summons for the remainder of his alleged debt, if he thought he could establish his claim at a future Court by more satisfactory evidence.

Order accordingly.

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Windsor and Eton Express 14 August 1847

NEW COUNTY COURT
Treadaway v. Perryman
In this case, which we have three times before reported, being a demand of the balance of 15s for fish sold by a wholesale fishmonger at Brentford, to a retail fishmonger in Windsor, the plaintiff was for the fourth time non-suited, not being able to write or read his own bills, and an entry being admitted by his book-keeper to be made since the last grant of summons to corroborate the demand.

Windsor and Eton Express 9 December 1848

Thomas Dobbinson, a fishmonger, of Old Brentford, was charged by Superintendent Eagar with ill-using his own horse, on Saturday the 25th ult, by over-driving the animal to that degree that its neck and shoulders were quite raw when he came into Windsor Market.

The defendant pleaded guilty; he urged in mitigation that the road was very heavy, and that he was unaware of the collar having galled the horse's shoulders and neck. On his expression of contrition for the offence, and his promise of not repeating it, the magistrates determined on remitting the fine to which he had legally subjected himself, and dismissed him with a caution.

Windsor and Eton Express 11 February 1860

Brentford Petty Sessions:
Henry Bates of Old Brentford, summoned Richard Treadway of Brentford End under the following circumstances:

Bates said, I was hawking fish, on Monday last, in the High-street of Brentford, when I saw the defendant, who was hawking fish also, and he holloed after me and taunted me. I said, "It's a very hard thing that I can't sell my fish without being abused and insulted by you; ain't I old enough to be your grandfather! You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Well then, gentlemen, he makes no more to do than he follows me to the Market-place, and then at it he goes again, and me doing nothing at all. Well, then I pushed my barrow up to the Half-acre, and he begun a regular row; and, not content with abusing me, he spat in my face and kicked me. I should just a' liked your honours to a' seen him. Now [imploringly to the bench], ain't it a hard thing I can't sell my fish without being bullied by him?

There being a cross summons, the bench determined on hearing the evidence on the other side before they gave any decision in the matter. Bates and Treadway accordingly changed places, and Treadway put forward a different version of the affair. He said, I was fish hawking, gentlemen, on Monday, in New Brentford, when I saw that man with his barrow. A customer called me, aand I went to serve them. Then I was called by another, and, I suppose, he got envious of me, for he holloed, "Gals, your fish ain't good; I can sell mine, that is good, cheaper than you can yours. Here you are, my mackerel is six a shilling." After this, I took no notice of him, and thought he would go away; but he followed me, and when we were near the Castle, he swore at me, and said I sold stinking fish, but I let him go on, and took no notice of him. However , when I got to the Half-acre, I called on a customer, who owed me a trifle. Well, your worships, I got to the door and knocked; up comes that man, and, as soon as the door was opened, he pushed his basket inside, and tells the woman that he could sell fish cheaper than me. The woman gave me sixpence, and I went and sat on my barrow, but he couldn't be satisfied with that. Up he comes and says," Get up, and I'll hit you;" but I did not care about his invitation, and he hit me. I went away from him, and he ran after me and hit me again; so I held out my foot to prevent him coming too close, and he ran against it, and almost knocked me down. Treadway now called the woman at whose house he had called in the Half-acre, and she confirmed his statement, and said he was very forbearing, while the other man was outrageous. He certainly was very drunk and the language made use of was disgusting.

Bates: I want your honour to bind him him (sic) in a bond to keep the peace to me and not insult. Why, bless you, you don't know him; he said he'd fight me first and pull me afterwards. I don't think I look much like a man to fight him.

The bench were of a different opinion, and bound each over to keep the peace towards the other.

Windsor and Eton Express 1 August 1863

Brentford Petty Sessions
Kate Wall Smith, a young woman whose husband keeps a beer shop on Brentford Bridge, summoned John Treadaway, a fishmonger of Brentford End. Complainant said : Last Sunday, there was a disturbance at our house, and in the evening my husband and myself went over to Brentford End to point out to the police those who had made the disturbance. Defendant's house was close by, and she stood near his door. He said something to her which she did not distinctly hear, after which he went upstairs, and threw a pail of water over her twice. The first time she did not see him, but she distinctly perceived him the second time.

Defendant said he was very much annoyed by the disturbance outside his house, where a great number of Irish people lived, and he certainly did throw some dirty water out of the window.

The Bench thought the justice of the case would be met by the defendant paying the cost of the summons.

[Note Treadaway's comments about Irish people - they received much negative press.]

Windsor and Eton Express 31 October 1863

Thomas Dobson, of Uxbridge, pleaded guilty to a charge made by James Williams, inspector of the Uxbridge Local Board, who deposed that, on the 15th inst, between 11 and 12 o'clock, he went to the Uxbridge market, and there saw the defendant, who is a fishmonger, and comes from Brentford to attend the Uxbridge market. The defendant had exposed for sale a quantity of plaice (51 in number) and four pieces of codfish. The complainant seized the whole of it, as being quite unfit for human food, and took it before Mr Greville, who ordered it to be destroyed.

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Windsor and Eton Express 15 July 1865

WINDSOR PETTY SESSIONS Monday, July 10
A HINT FOR THE INSPECTOR OF NUISANCES
John Treadaway, a fishmonger of Brentford, was charged with leaving three boxes and two fish baskets on the footway in Market-street.

Windsor and Eton Express 23 September 1865

Brentford Petty Sessions
John Treadaway, fishmonger, of New Brentford, was charged with having violently assaulted William Simmonds, greengrocer, also of New Brentford. Mr Woodbridge supported the summons, There was a cross-summons. The quarrel and skirmish arose from the upsetting of a costermonger's cart.

The Bench dismissed the summons against Simmonds, but told Treadaway that he had been guilty of an unprovoked and unjustifiable assault. The Bench had known his character before as a pugnacious and violent man, as it was not the first time he had been before the magistrates. In the present instance they would inflict a fine of 5, or two months' imprisonment, but, if brought before them again for a similar offence, he might depend on a long term of imprisonment, without the option of a fine.

Windsor and Eton Express 14 April 1866

Brentford Petty Sessions
Henry Bates, summoned for wheeling his barrow on the footpath near the Cemetery, pleaded guilty, and was fined 1s and costs.

Windsor and Eton Express 7 July 1866

Brentford Petty Sessions
Charles Earl, a fishmonger, of Old Brentford, was fined 10s for causing an obstruction, by having a fish stall erected in front of his shop from 8 to 10 o'clock on the previous Saturday night.
(there appears to have been a blitz on street obstructions; at the same court Mr Jacob Haines, cheesemonger of New Brentford was 'summoned ... for allowing a cart to stand ...in a public throroughfare'; Mr William Sharpe, greengrocer of High Street, Old Brentford 'was summoned for a similar offence, by causing six large baskets to stand outside his shop from 8 to 10 o'clock on the previous Saturday evening'; Mr Joseph Neville, cooper, of Old Brentford, was summoned for 'a like offence, by leaving five tubs on the edge of the footpath outside his shop'.)

Berkshire Chronicle 18 August 1866

The HEALTH OF WINDSOR
The public are much indebted to the active exertions of Mr Brown, the Sanitary Inspector for the borough, for its present state of healthiness and freedom from a single case of that dire epidemic, the cholera. Last week Mr Brown brought before the magistrates a person named Thomas Dobinson, fishmonger, of Old Brentford, who attends the Windsor market on Saturdays, when he was fined 50s and 13s costs for having putrid fish at his stalls. The Act of Parliament provides a fine of 10 or two months imprisonment for such offences, and in this case we should like to have seen the whole amount inflicted. We are unable to understand why respectable fishmongers in the town cannot, or will not, introduce a quick sale, with moderate profits, sufficient to keep these weekly visitors from monopolising the fish trade once a week, when large quanitites are disposed of by them.

Reading Mercury 11 August 1866

WINDSOR POLICE
On Monday, a fishmonger named Thomas Dobinson, of Old Brentford, for having putrid fish in his possession in the market, was fined 50s and costs, or in default, two months' imprisonment. Latterly a great deal of stale fish has been brought into the town by hawking fishmongers.

The following article provides more detail about the case and some extracts are included below:

Windsor and Eton Express 11 August 1866

A CAUTION TO VENDORS OF PUTRID FISH
Thomas Dobinson, of Old Brentford, fishmonger, was summoned by Mr F Brown, the sanitary inspector, for having in his possession, exposed for sale, one salmon and 29 mackerel, unfit for human food. The information upon which these proceedings were taken stated that the fish had been seized by the sanitary inspector, and after inspection by a justice of the peace, had been ordered to be buried, so as to prevent its being used for human food...

Defendant stated in defence that he was only a servant in the employ of a fishmonger named Treadaway, paid for his trouble in coming to Windsor; and he asserted that the fish did not belong to him.

Mr Brown said .... there are four fish stalls, and three of them are taken by Treadaway, who monopolises them, although he does not use them, and the Windsor fishmongers are not able to sell there...

Mr Ayres ... inquired whether the Brentford people were to have all the Windsor market? The Mayor replied ... he had ... given directions ... to give the Windsor tradesmen the preference in letting the stalls.

Windsor and Eton Express 6 June 1868

UNWHOLESOME FISH
George Bates, of Brentford, fishmonger, was charged by Mr F Brown, the Sanitary Inspector, with having 46 lbs weight of unwholesome shrimps in his possession at his stall in Windsor market. He pleaded guilty, but urged that he had bought them from an exceedingly good sample at Billingsgate. On the shrimps being seized, they were condemned by a magistrate (Mr Pearl) and buried. Some of them were fine shrimps, but the majority of them were perfectly putrid. The magistrates fined the defendant 2 and 16s costs, which he paid in preference to the alternative of one month's imprisonment at hard labour. The full penalty to which the defendant was liable is 10 for each shrimp.

Windsor and Eton Express 3 October 1868

John Treadaway, of Brentford, fishmonger, was summoned for exposing unwholesome fish for sale, in Uxbridge market, on the 10th September.

Mr William, inspector of nuisances, stated that on the day in question, in Windsor-street, defendant had a quantity of herrings on the ground for sale. He was calling out "fresh herrings." Witness examined them, and found them unwholesome and totally unfit for food. They were seized and taken before a magistrate (Mr Rutter), who ordered them to be destroyed.

John Russell, in the employ of the Local Board of Health, deposed that Mr Williams ordered thim to take the herrings off the ground, and to wheel them up to the magistrate. The defendant said he thought they were fit to eat, and offered to have one cooked. The herrings smelt very offensively, and, as he rested the barrow, he was obliged to walk away some distance from it. He counted the herrings, and found there were 292.

The Magistrates' Clerk told the defednant that he had made himself liable to a penalty of 5,840 - 20 for each fish.

A fine of 2 10s was inflicted.

Western Daily Press 30 September 1873

DISEASED FISH
At the Brentford petty session on Saturday, Thomas Marshall, a fishmonger of Brentford, was summoned at the instance of the Sanitary Board for exposing for sale in a public market 101 unwholesome mackerel. William Ansel, inspector of nuisances, said he attended Brentford Market on Tuesday last. The defendant had exposed on a stall in the market 101 bad mackerel. The chairman told the defendant that he had rendered himself liable to a fine of 2,200. This being the first offence, he must pay 40s, or go to prison for one month.

Hull Daily Mail 5 April 1906

A fishmonger, summoned at Brentford for non-payment of alimony to his wife, pleaded in excuse that fish was so dear during Lent that he could not sell any.

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Page published July 2016