FISH, Walter (d.1585), of Blackfriars, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

m. Elizabeth, at least 2s. 1da.

Offices Held

Warden, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1569-70, 1572-3, master 1576-7; yeoman of the revels from 1574; Queen’s tailor by 1577; gov. Christ’s Hospital by 1578; auditor, London 1578-9.


Fish was clearly well established by 1568 when he was one of a few citizens chosen to dine with the newly installed lord mayor. However, his first recorded attendance at the court of the Merchant Taylors’ Company was on 2 Jan. 1570 and he was chosen to meet Prince Casimir, brother of the Elector Palatine, on his visit to London in 1578. In his capacity as royal tailor he sometimes had disputes referred to him for arbitration. His post in the revels was no doubt concerned with the care of the costumes. It brought him 6d. a day and livery and a place to store the vestures. He owned a house at Blackfriars and a lease of the prebend of Shelford, Essex.

In 1581, together with other officials of the company, he was sued in the Star Chamber for perjury, the case being dismissed with costs. Fish’s name is, however, remembered in connexion with a more celebrated suit. During the 1570s, an information was laid against the Merchant Taylors for failing to include a rent charge—payable out of their property in Lombard Street and Cornhill Street—in their return to the charity commissioners of Edward VI. Half the arrears went to the informer and the other half to the Queen, who granted it to Fish. With this money he purchased a house in Cannon Street and transferred it to the Company to endow five divinity scholarships—later known as the Fish exhibitions—at St. John’s College, Oxford. The annual rent charge of £7 6s.8d. was also assigned to him. This he gave to the Merchant Taylors in trust to pay 6s.8d. to the clerk and beadle and to distribute £7 among the almsmen of the livery of the company. A gift with which he is credited, of coals worth 20s. per annum to the almshouses of Broadstreet Ward, may well have been provided for out of this money.

Fish left no mark on the journals of the House of Commons during his one membership of Parliament. He died between June 1585 and 27 Nov., when probate of his will was granted to his widow and executrix. He had made the will in September 1578. After satisfaction of debts, the estate was to be divided into three parts, according to London custom. His wife and eldest son Cornelius each received a third, and the rest was to be divided between his wife and both sons. Save for some rings and pieces of plate, his daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Charles Hales, was excluded from receiving anything, since she had been ‘advanced’ in marriage. Rings were bequeathed to his friends, provision made for a number of servants, and £6 13s.4d. given to the poor children of Christ’s Hospital.

APC, ix. 316; E. K. Chambers, Eliz. Stage, i. 83, 86, 94-6; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 289; C. Monro, Acta Canc.360-1, 363-4; C. M. Clode, Early Hist. Merchant Taylors, i. 76, 238-52, 363-6; ii. 213, 222, 342; Mems. Merchant Taylors, 117, 290-1, 479-80; Egerton 2806, ff. 2, 4 seq.; H. L. Hopkinson, Rep. Merchant Taylors’ Recs.64-5; Stow, Surv. London ed. Kingsford, i. 181; PCC 53 Brudenell.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.