Fish, (fr. poisson): in the earlier arms(as in the case of beasts) very few varieties of fish indeed are found mentioned in heraldic bearings. In the four rolls of arms referred to under the summaries of beasts, birds, &c., viz. of Henry III., of Edward I., II., and III., the only fish represented are the Lucies or Pikes, and the Barbel. But in later arms we find named between thirty and forty varieties of fish, as will be seen by referring to the Synopsis. As in the case of the birds, a large proportion are selected for the sake of the name, as lucie for LUCY, eels for ELLIS, and chub for CHOBBE; hence too, we find many local names of fish introduced , some of which it has been difficult to identify, such as the birt fish(see under turbot), the cob and the sparking(see herring), the spalding, and he tubbe fish. The last, however, borne by the family of TUBBE, are usually blazoned gurnets, q.v.
It must not, however, be forgotten that the term fish had a much wider meaning than we now give it. In unscientific days not only the Dolphin was considered a fish, but, already said in the notice of this mammal, it was looked upon as the king of fishes. At the same time the Whale was classed as a fish, being an inhabitant of the sea. Also the crustacea, such as crabs and lobsters, and the mollusca, such as the escallop and whelk, were considered as fish, or at least what were called shell-fish.
Per fesse gules and or, in base a wolf passant reguardant vert, holding in his mouth a fish of the third; in chief … KYERKWALD.
Azure, three otters passant in pale or, each holding in his mouth a fish argent–PROUDE, Kent.
Vert, three fishes hauriant or, spotted gules–DOGGE.
Argent, a bend engrailed between six fishes hauriant argent–COOPER.
Argent, on two bars wavy azure, three fishes naiant two and one, or in fesse a mount vert, charged with a dove rising, nimbed of the third–HILSEY, Bp. of Rochester, 1535-1538.
As has been already pointed out under dolphin several Lord Mayors of London bore this supposed fish in their arms, by reason of the flourishing condition of the FISHMONGERS’ Companies. The two Companies of SALT and STOCK-FISH MONGERS were united in 1536, when they obtained a charter from Henry VIII. In their old Hall, destroyed by the fire of London, there were arms in the windows of twenty-two Lord Mayors, who had been chosen from the Fishmongers’ Company.
Fish are, as a rule, borne upright, when the old French term hauriant is used, i.e. the heads are supposed to be just above the water, and to be taking in air; but they are also often borne extended, when the old term naiant, or swimming, is applied: and so it is generally stated which of these two should be the position of the fish, though if not, the first must be assumed. If two fish are ‘respecting one another,’ or endorsed, the upright or hauriant position is implied, or in fesse the naiant position. The fish may also be drawn in saltire, &c. The term embowed appears to be applied only to the Dolphin, and the same of vorant. The term urinant, i.e. diving, is sometimes applied to a fish with the head downwards. Besides the above, the terms allumé(fr.), when the eyes are of some bright tincture, and pamé(fr.), when the mouth is open, and the fish is as it were gasping, are applied by French heralds, but seldom, if ever, by English writers. Dolphins and sometimes other fish may be finned of another tincture than that of the body.
In French heraldry the following have been observed: truite, hareng, saumon, brochet(pike), carpe, tanche, eperlan(smelt), lamproie, rosse(roach), and rouget(gurnet).
Per pale azure and purpure, a fish hauriant or–VAUGHAN, Wales, [Granted 1491].
Gules, a fish naiant argent–HARBRON, co. Chester.
Gules, three fish conjoined at their tails, in triangle or, heads sable–BERNBACK.
Argent, three fishes’ heads meeting in the fess point argent–TWYNKYN.
Gules, a fish in bend argent–NEVE.
Argent, two fishes in saltire azure–GEDNEY, co. Lincoln.
Vert, a dolphin urinant(on in pale, tail in chief) or–MONYPENNY, Kent.