FISH, Nicholas (by 1518-58 or later), of Canterbury and Fordwich, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1518, s. of John Fish of Canterbury. m. Joan, da. of John Johnson, 4s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Common councilman, Canterbury by 1547, alderman 1550, chamberlain 1553-5; commr. goods of churches and fraternities 1553.3


Nicholas Fish, the son of a freeman of Canterbury, was admitted to the freedom of the city in 1539 as a draper. Ten years later the city leased to him the tower over the Redingate, for 21 years at 8d. a year, provided he did the repairs. He was already an alderman when he was elected chamberlain in 1553, an unusual circumstance which may have reflected a growth in the importance of the office following the long tenure of his predecessor Anthony Knight. It was while he was chamberlain that Fish was elected to Parliament. He may have been paid wages for his attendance, for although in the previous April the city had resolved that its Members should no longer be paid out of the chamber of the city, when this prohibition was repeated on 15 Jan. 1555 it was applied specifically to future Members under the penalty of a £10 fine and loss of freedom for any mayor, alderman or common councilman seeking to alter or break it. The fact that Fish was present in the burmote on this occasion shows that he had quitted Parliament before its dissolution on the following day, and he was indeed to be one of the Members prosecuted in the King’s bench in the following Easter term for being absent without leave when the House was called. He failed to appear in court but no action was taken against him, probably because his withdrawal was not a gesture of disapproval.4

Early in 1557 Fish and others accounted to the crown for the money which they had received as commissioners for the sale of church goods under Edward VI. ‘Ornaments’ from the parish churches of Canterbury had realized £69 19s.2d. and stocks of money from the churches £92 15s.10d.; most of this, and nearly 500 ounces of plate and a number of vestments, had long since been delivered to royal officials in London, but of the cash remaining in hand the persons concerned claimed £20 for the ‘building and fortifying of certain places in the walls of the city of Canterbury aforesaid in the time of the rebellion of Wyatt’, a claim which was evidently disallowed. Fish’s name last appears in the city records on 20 Sept. 1558, when he was marked as absent from the burmote, without incurring a penalty. He had probably already left the city for he was a sick man when as Nicholas Fish of Fordwich he made his will on the following 1 Nov. The income from all his property he left to his wife Joan until his sons were 21; she also received the residue of all his movable goods. Three tenements in Canterbury were eventually to go to his son Richard, the house ‘I late dwelt in, set, lying and being in the street called the Mercery’ and another tenement in Canterbury to his son Nicholas, and one messuage in the city to each of his sons John and William. His two daughters, Joan and Agnes, were to receive £10 on marriage. Fish named his wife executrix and his father-in-law overseer. There is no probate clause.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Canterbury prob. reg. A31, f. 25 registered copy dated 1 Nov. 1558 although the year is further given, probably in error, as 1 Eliz. (1559).
  • 3. Canterbury chamberlains’ accts. 10, 11 passim; burmote bk. 1542-78; CPR, 1550-3, p. 396; Arch. Cant. xiv. 318.
  • 4. Freemen of Canterbury, ed. Cowper, col. 32; Arch. Cant. xxxiv. 12, 26, 33; Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, ff. 45v, 83v, 90v-91; chamberlains’ accts. 11; KB29/188, rot. 48.
  • 5. Arch. Cant. xiv. 316-18; Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, f. 118v.