Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.

The Fisherrow Fishwives

Fisherrow Fishwives at Musselburgh fish market

Fisherrow Fishwives at Musselburgh fish market

The Fisherrow fishwives, from Fisherrow in Musselburgh, were known for their distinctive striped skirts and aprons, and form an incredibly important part of East Lothian’s heritage. These women worked long hours in physically demanding jobs and cared for their large families whilst their husbands were at sea for long periods of time.

The work of the fishwives began even before their husbands’ and fathers’ boats had left the harbour. Fishermen rarely married outside their community, so fishing was a family occupation. Wives and daughters often cleaned the lines, otherwise known as redding, and attached new bait such as mussels and buckie. Each fisherman typically used one or two lines at a time, to which 1300 hooks had to be added by hand. This work required both speed and skill, although the women are often photographed doing this in groups whilst chatting or singing.

Once the fish were brought into the harbour, groups of women who followed the crews along the coastline, gathered to gut and clean the catch.  Women of all ages were involved, many of them elderly. They stood for hours at a time with their hands in icy, salty water gutting and cleaning the herring. Accidents were common and the womens’ hands were often wrapped in badges, hiding painful gashes underneath. Incredibly, the women sometimes managed to get through as many as 20,000 fish in a single day for the sum of 11 shillings plus their board and travel.

Then the women and girls (some as young as 14), carried the freshly caught fish into Edinburgh for sale. They would often work in teams of three, sharing the weight of the basket, in a journey which took them just 45 minutes. It is said that three Fisherrow women once walked the 27 miles from Dunbar to Edinburgh, with 200 pounds of fish on their backs, in just 5 hours. It was not uncommon for the women to carry these heavy loads just three days after giving birth. In later years, the women journeyed into Edinburgh by tram, bus and train.  Once in the city centre, they would sell the fish in markets or on the street from the heavy wicker creel on their back, using a skull to scoop the fish out. You can see one of these creels in the museum at the John Gray Centre.

Fisher women racing

Fisher women racing

However, there was also time for fun and friendship. The women played golf long before it was a fashionable pastime for women, and every Shrove Tuesday a football match took place in Musselburgh between the married and unmarried fisherwomen. It has been reported that the married women were invariably the winners. Singing was also an important aspect of community life. The Fisherrow Fishwives Choir was formed in the 1930s and only ended some 40 years later. The fishing community also shared a strong faith. They met for many years in the local Mission Hall, which was closed in 2001, for Sunday services, Sunday School and the annual Harvest Thanksgiving Festival. Most boats were either named after female family members or biblical references.

A highlight in the community calendar was the Fishermen’s Walk. This started in the 1790s when the fishermen would pay money into a common fund as insurance, that in the event of illness or death, their families would be cared for. On the third Friday in September, the fund was opened for those in need. Over time, this became a celebratory walk involving the whole village which ended at Pinkie House with a sports competitions and picnic.

It is believed that the last Fisherrow fishwife died in 2000 but the community is still represented through a legacy of songs and stories. We are very keen to hear from members of the public who remember the Fisherrow Fishwives or have any memorabilia you would like to share.  You can contact the team at [email protected].

69 thoughts on “The Fisherrow Fishwives”

  1. Lindsay Alderton says:

    It’s been a long while since anyone’s posted anything, but I’m currently looking for any info/photos about Mary Ann McCallum (nee Mary Ann Cather) (husband Robert/Bob McCallum), my great great grandmother who was a herring lassie, following the ships sometime from 1896 onwards. She was based for a while in Aberdeen, Glasgow before that. Any information whatsoever would be so gratefully received! Thank you

  2. Janice Towersey says:

    I am researching my family history and my grand mother was a Murray. The first murray I have is George William Murray born about 1785 in Fisherrow Musselburugh Scotland. He was in Dorset England aged 21yrs in 1806 and stayed there until his death in the 1850s. If anyone has any knowledge of this surname in Fisherrow or of any historical organisations etc then I would by very grateful to here from you.
    My email address is [email protected].
    Kind Regards
    Janice T.

  3. Eileen Ailman (née Craig) says:

    I am proud to come from a long line of Fisher people on my Dad’s side. His parents were Robert and Marion Craig (née Hamilton). I made Fisherwife outfits for myself, my daughter and my granddaughter which we wear when we attend Scottish games here in California.

    1. My great grandmother was a fishwife called Robina Currie, married to John. I remember visiting relatives in Musselburgh called Jean and Nan Currie. I now live in Auchmithie, north of Arbroath where we reenact in costume the old fishing way of life.

  4. Shields says:

    My great, great, great grandmother was Anne Shields a fishwife and networker from Fisherrow.
    She had two sons Archie Shields and James Shields and a daughter Mary Booth Shields who was a net worker. Archie worked at the wireworks and James sadly died an infant. Anne and Mary kept the Shields name and later married Breslin and Wilkie. other names in the family are Ingles and Stewart.

    My grandfather Ernie Shields used to tell me his great grandmothers photo was on the wall in The hole in the wall pub, she was smoking a pipe.
    I would love to know more about this family and if anyone has a photo.
    Thank you.

  5. Trish BJ says:

    I’m looking for info on the Fisherrow Fishwives Choir, any help much appreciated. I’m interested in the choir because of my great grandmother used to conduct the choir and I’m trying to piece together her life in Fisherrow, well Newhailes Ave t o be precise.

    1. Bill Wilson says:

      Dear Trish

      I’m sorry to say that we have no documentation about the choir. The only thing we do have is the one photograph of the choir where it mentions the conductress, Mrs. Brodie and all the ladies are dressed in traditional fishwives costume. The date that is given for when it was taken is 1940.

      If this Mrs. Brodie happens to be your great grandmother then please feel free to drop in and we can get the photograph down from the store for you to see. The centre is open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. We look forward to seeing you.
      Bill Wilson
      Local History Officer

      1. James Marshall says:

        My husband and I also saw a picture of the Choir on the wall across from the Brunton at Wetherspoon’s. It is on the back wall, middle booth on the bottom picture, it was dated at 1955. That was on the night of the second showing of the Fishwives program at the Brunton. We live in CLifornia, we’re over for a holiday. My husband’s Gran was a Fishwife. Her name was Elizabeth Harvey Walker Marshall. She died in 1967 and is buried at the Kirk in Musselburgh.

    2. Elizabeth says:

      Hello Patricia, my mum who is ninety two sang in the choir when she was eighteen. She remembers it fondly and I am sure would be happy to talk to you.

      Elizabeth Wood

  6. Bob Hogg says:

    Hi, my wife’s step grandmother was Elizabeth Harvey Walker. She was born in Beach Lane Fisherrow in 1889 and was the daughter of Robert Walker, a fisherman, and his wife Margaret Naysmith. She Married a David Porteous Marshall in 1915 and they had 3 children James, Donald & Margaret. I think Elizabeth was a fishwife until well into the 1950’s and sold mussels etc at the top of St. Mary’s Street in Edinburgh. She was remarried to my wife’s grandfather John Russell Finlay Davidson in 1958 and they lived at 4 Links Avenue Musselburgh until Elizabeth died in 1967 and John lived on there until he died in 1976. I am researching my wife’s family tree and would be grateful if anyone has any information about Elizabeth, her first husband David and their children. Maybe even a photograph.

    1. Barnesnaysmith says:

      Hi there – this makes you one of the Musselburgh Naysmiths, descended from Duncan Naysmith (b.1816) s/o John Naysmith & Mary Tiviodale. My great-grandfather was John Naysmith (b.1877) s/o Margaret Walker Harvey & Archibald Naysmith. They also lived on Links St in Musselburgh – at No.5 (just next door to your grandmother). I have done a lot of research on this (as have many others) – my info is stored on [user – BARNESNAYSMITH] – or feel free to contact via Reply.

      1. James Marshall says:

        I am Elizabeth Harvey Walker Marshall’s grandson. James, son of James, her eldest son. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I will be going on the Ancestry site so see what information you have. Thanks you so much for posting.

      2. korina parker says:

        I am the grandaughter of robert naysmith from musselburgh. I think he had a brother called duncan? Born 1916 and died 1998. I am trying to find out more … can you help? Many thanks

        1. FrancesW says:

          We can certainly try. If you can send an email to [email protected] with the full details and what you would like to know we can have a look for you.
          best wishes, Fran

        2. James Naysmith says:

          Hi Korina, I know of a Robert Naysmith who had 2 brothers James and Duncan + a `sister’ named Ruth. Would you mind letting me know, please, what your grandfather did for a living, and where he lived, as there seem to be multiple Naysmiths with the same name?
          We could then establish if we’re related.
          Many thanks, James Naysmith

    2. Bill Elgin says:

      Hi Bob
      I can give you a little information about Elizabeth or “Leezie” as she was always known. I was brought up next door to her in 4 Links Avenue. Leezie was actually a “musselwife” and not a fishwife, quite a distinction. She was part of a group of very hard working musselwives who gathered mussels from the foreshore at Fisherrow all week long at low tide. She shelled, prepared and cooked the vast quantity of mussels gathered in her house. On a Saturday she transported them in aluminium pitchers on the tram to Edinburgh and sat all day outside the Waverly Bar in St Mary’s selling thle mussels (6d a saucer).
      As you say, she married Russell, as we knew him in the late fifties. Russell as I remember him was a very gentle and quiet man and was well liked by everyone when he came to Fisherrow. My Mother and Father were particularly fond of him. Am I right in saying that Russell worked in the Rubber Mill until he retired and I think he had twin sons who used to come and visit him.
      Leezie had three children Robert, James and Margaret.
      Margaret (Scott) and her family emigrated to Australia in the mid fifties. James too, I think went to Australia and I think he remarried there but later returned and settled in Edinburgh. Robert continued to live in Musselburgh until he died some years ago and his two daughters still live here.
      I’m not sure that there is much else I can tell you but if I find any pictures or think of anything else I will get in touch.
      I, myself am now 70 but we often talk of the era of the mussel wives, quite a different world.
      Bill Elgin

      1. Tammy Scott says:

        Hi Bill, such wonderful news!
        I am the grand daughter of Margaret (Elizabeth’s daughter), here in Sydney Australia.
        I had no information on “Leezie” other than my dad’s stories.
        If you have anything else…….I would love to know.
        Thanking you,

        1. James Marshall says:

          Tammy, we are your cousins. My husband is James, son of James, your uncle. We were in Musselburgh about a month ago and saw a presentation about the earlier Fishwives and Bill’s wife was in the program. He and my husband had a grand old revisit. Oh I cannot tell you how happy we are to know you. We are in touch with Evelyn and Ursula and met with Robert’s Betty in Musselburgh. Please contact us. [email protected]

      2. James Marshall says:

        Billy, this is James in California. I am back here now. Just found this site and am absolutely over the moon. Just found one of my cousins, Tammy Scott in Australia. Am hoping that Bob Hogg and Tammy will contact us. These posts are from 2016 and 2017. Is there anyone to contact there in Scotland to possibly get contact information for them, good emails etc. great to see you again. Am over the moon about these postings about Gran. Wonderful!

      3. Robert Hogg says:

        Hi Bill
        Thank you so much for your reply to my post and my sincere apologies for not replying sooner as I only saw it when I visited the John Gray Centre yesterday.

        I very much appreciate the information in your post.

        Leezie did marry my wife’s grandfather John RUSSELL Finlay Davidson in March 1958 when she was 69 and he was 63 and they lived in 4 Links Avenue where Russell stayed on after Leezies death in 1967 until he also died in 1976.

        You are correct in saying that Russell worked in the rubber mill in Fountainbridge although in his younger days he was an apprentice saddler. He did have twin sons by his first marriage, John who was my wife’s father and George. George died in 1999 and john died a few months later on 1st March 2000. They both died from Stomach Cancer which was what claimed the life of their mother at a young age in the early 1950’s!!.

        Thanks again for taking the time to post this information which has helped both me and Tammy.

    3. James Marshall says:

      Mr Hogg. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. I had just added the comment to the Choir question above, and then paged down to your comment. Please see above. Uncanny. My husband is Elizabeth’s grandson and grew up there on Links Ave. We were just there in Scotland and came home on 28/3. Would love to be in touch. We have pictures and it was James, my husband’s father, Robert and Margaret. Please contact us.

      1. Tammy Homulos says:

        Hi James and Sharon, I have tried so many times to contact you, email and left messages on phone. I’m not sure if your still travelling?
        Could you please contact me – [email protected] I am so eager to hear from you.


  7. As Liz mentioned the line fishing was known as the sma`lines and the lines were baited with mussel collected by the fishwives of Fisherrow, Newhaven, Buckhaven and other places mainly East Coast. The herring girls travelled down the East Coast from Shetland to Yarmouth as the herring moved down the coast and the BF, BCK, FR,KY ,ML LH and BK registered boats moved down with them INS WK were other registered vessels from Inverness and Wick.The girls worked in groups of 3 out of troughs or farlins guting and packing herring which mainly went to the Baltic countries.So there were two different kinds of Fishwives the ones that carried the creel and the herring gutting girls who worked away from home following the fleet.

  8. Liz Balfour says:

    You are confusing herring fishing with line fishing.

    Locally line fishing was used to catch a variety of fish ( which could include herring in season) on a long baited line, prepared by women, laid in a basket called a scull and then taken to sea in small boats, inshore fishing. This is the fish which was taken ashore and sold by the fishwives.

    Herring were caught in nets and these were used only when much larger boats were introduced. The herring lassies who are photographed working with their hands bandaged followed the herring fleet as it in turn followed shoals of herring out at sea, offshore fishing. They travelled all the way around the coast, gutting fish and packing it into barrels with salt to preserve it.

    I make replicas of the fishing baskets and am always interested in learning more myself.

  9. Alison graham says:

    Hi my name is Alison Graham my grandad Thomas Ryder Graham lived in Downie place late 1800’s if anybody has any information on anything that may help me in my search for unraveling my past it would be more than welcome

  10. 1 Reference query by David Donaldson the vessel Confidence LH1107 was owned by Alex P. Harkes and then Alex Allan and was used for fishing for white fish and herring and she was fully decked at that time and lugger rigged, 56 feet long and 46 tons with a crew of 7 men.She ended up as a hulk on 12 Dec. 1916 and was on the LH register in 1886 for fishing vessels
    2 Reference query by Bob Walser .there was an article in the Scotsman Newspaper on 3rd August 1963 by Francis Collinson called “Oyster Songs of the Firth of Forth” which featured songs of Newhaven,Fisherrow and Cockenzie.I have a copy in my Newhaven files if you have difficulty in getting this.

  11. John Thorburn says:

    Hello Bob I’m not sure my old uncle Archie Thorburn was your singer. My uncle Archie certainly was musical but I’m not sure he is your man. Uncle Arch lived in New Street Fisherrow and was very involved in the (I think) mission church

    1. John Thorburn – Archie Thorburn was my great great grandfather. I have the recording he made (via Bob Walser) I couldn’t believe it could be the same Archie Thorburn but then the research details gave me Archie’s address and yes – it was the same one. Are you at Shields? It would be great to be in touch with you. Please send me an email, Thanks, Shona

      1. Seahouses – meant to type that instead of Shields. John, you are definitely my relative 😉

        1. Robert Ritchie says:

          Shona my uncle was Archie Thorburn brother of John Thorburn from eahouses he had two sons John and David.
          Archie was a commercial traveler and played the organ in the \church of Christ in New street he married Jean Brown they had two daughters Betty and Jean. Archie was also a lay preacher.
          In the Church of Christ. he was the most kind and gentle man.

          1. Louise mclaren says:

            Hello, my Great Gran was Marion Ritchie Craig, Fisherwomen and father David Craig married to Marion Ritchie. I am also related to Shona M. Thank you.

          2. John Thorburn says:

            Robert sorry I have let my comments and interest lapse because of family illness. I’m going to try and get up to the Musselburgh museum later this year 2019

      2. Margaret says:

        Hi, I noticed the name Shields in your Message. I am a Shields and my family came from Fisherrow and new street. The name Shields came down from the female line. They didn’t take the fathers names Breslin or Wilkie after marriage Mary booths some is my gt grandfather Archie Shields he married Jennie Meikle.
        Anne Shields came from Newcastle and went to Musselburgh to live with family.
        She had a daughter Mary booth Shields and a son Archie Shields he worked at the Brunton wire works.
        It would be great if it’s the same shields family you refer to in your message.

    2. Louise Mclaren says:

      Hello. My name is Louise Mclaren. My Great Gran was a Fisherwomen called Marion Ritchie Craig. Married to David Craig. Gran was Marion Ritchie Mclean.

      Love to find out more with any pictures or relations. Thank you.

  12. Bob Walser says:

    I am researching the “dreg songs” sung by the oystermen of Fisherrow, New Haven and Port Seton (among other places). I noticed the name John Thorburn and wonder if you might be related to Archibald Thorburn who sang these songs for an American folklorist back in the 1930s. Any clues about these songs and the folks who sang them would be most welcome!

  13. David Donaldson says:

    I don;t know if we are talking about the same boat, but.
    My Great-grandfather Adam Donaldson of Cockenzie built a
    fishing boat in1885 called Confidence. Fishing Boat Heritage
    lists her as LH1107.

  14. John thorburn says:

    Funny old industry is the fishing one, I wouldn’t be here without herring, both grandads were herring fishermen one from Seahouses the other Fisherrow and became friends. My mum became a nurse in Edinburgh and because both grandads knew each other Rachel was invited to New street to have tea after church services and snap mum and dad eventually married and here I am. I’m still trying to find more information on my Fisherrow gran Elizabeth’s father John Walker of 84 Causewayside ( photo above). The story was he survived the October gale of 1881, came ashore because of pneumonia and started the shop, but??

    1. Tammy Homulos says:

      Hi John,

      I too am searching Elizabeth Harvey Walker etc. I am her great grand daughter. Her daughter Margaret Thorburn Walker Naysmith Davidson Marshall -long name!!! – married an Archibald Scott and they migrated to Australia.
      Are you able to shed some light??
      Thanking you,

    2. John wiseman says:

      Re your post of 2015 I have photo of a Walker family from Musselburgh and have no idea who they are while doing family tree my granny was Mary Ann walker born Musselburgh 1885 and lived in beach lane her father being John walker married to Isabella brown he appears to be the owner of the shop at 84 causewayside edinburgh is this coincidence would like any info as I am down sizing and will probably dis pose of photos
      John Wiseman

      1. James Marshall says:

        Do not dispose of photos. Please. We are looking for photos of the family. My husband is James, son of James, Elizabeth’s eldest son. Please contact us at [email protected]. Would pay postage for anything you have. Sincere thanks for posting this info. James

      2. HanitaR says:

        Hi John,
        Thank you for highlighting these images in your collection. We at the Local History Service would be very happy to accept any images relating to Musselburgh, should any relatives not want to keep them. If you are ok with this, please contact us at [email protected]
        Look forward to hearing from you.

        1. Tammy Homulos says:

          Hi, just wondering if you received any photo’s from John?
          I would love any copies info you may recieve, my email is [email protected].

          Thanking you,
          Tammy Homulos

      3. Tammy Homulos says:

        HI John,

        Just read your post, I’m back now from the area (Australia) I would love any photo’s info you might have to help clarify who’s who.
        My email is [email protected]

        Thanking you John,

  15. charlie cameron carruthers says:

    With reference to the above Confidence was registered as LH189 not LH186 – finger trouble!!

  16. LH196 was the Mayqueen from Dunbar owned by `Boups` Johnstone and ex Newhaven whilst LH186 was the Confidence of Fisherrow lost in WW2 off Ceylon.

  17. Keith says:

    Charlie – Just by chance I was Googling for information on LH196 which appears in the background of an Evening Dispatch photo of landing craft in Newhaven during WW2. Could this be Confidence? The reference for the photo is P2433 from The Scotsman Publications if you want to try and get a good copy. Otherwise let me know your e-mail addres and I’ll send you a jpeg – Keith

  18. charlie cameron carruthers says:

    You can certainly use my material for a blog and will be visiting Bill Wilson next week at the John Grey Centre with further LH fleet lists of fishing boats for the archives.

  19. Charlie Cameron Carruthers says:

    Charlie here looking for info` on two boats lost in World War 2 from Fisherrow Musselburgh, and they were Confidence LH189 and Better Hope LH173. they were lost in the Far East possibly near Ceylon and the owners were not compensated for their loss.

    1. FrancesW says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Try this link here for some information (and an image)

      We don’t seem to have any information here but it would certainly be worth trying Musselburgh Museum as they may well know more.

      kind regards,


      My father HAMILTON FLEMING from New Street Fisherrow was stunned to see these two in Trincamalee during the war and went aboard these two boats .

  20. HelenB says:

    Wow Charlie, what a wealth of information! Thank you! Like the sound of the penny weddings 🙂 Those nicknames are fascinating too, and we’ve also been looking for a source for gansey/guernsey patters, so that’s very helpful. Would you mind if we used your comment for a blog? Or would you like to write one yourself? Will email you directly with details.

  21. Charles cameron carruthers says:

    Charlie back with some more info on fishwives of the Forth – casting the Kyles – when the Fisherrow fishwives went to Newhaven to get their fish they grabbed an innocent passer-bye and gave him articles of each fishwife i.e. a button, matchbox, etc., and he or she had to place them on each box of fish so that their share was equal.Buckhaven wives got the passer-bye to write their names on a piece of paper and put them down beside each bundle of fish, and if he or she knew their names he would turn his back and as a fishwife pointed with her shoe at a bundle of fish he would call out a name and so the fish were shared out equally. Casting of the Kyles was down by all three groups of fishwives.
    Washing of the providing – the bride to be next day had all her linens and underclothes washed and hung out to dry before her wedding so that all could see what she had.
    Penny weddings – originally neighbours contributed 1d towards festivities and later they bought gifts in kind.The week up to the wedding they,both bride and groom would parade through the town to let everyone know of the coming festivities.
    Bye names of Newhaven ,Fisherrow, and Port Seton – Newhaverners were known as Bowtows (a rope which is part of the net put in kutch a Burmese preservative and which stank) sometimes used as a belt for their breeks and when one was in a shop customers would say”theres a bowtow about”.!!! Fisherrow were Bageaters as they were brought up on tripe !!!. Port Seton were Cadells Geese as Colonel Cadell kept geese and the fishermen would feed them on their way to their boats. Dunbar was known for ” broken windaes ” so much for my town.Ugh!
    Last fishwives from Newhaven and Fisherrow were Esther Liston(Newhaven) and Betty Millar (Fisherrow).
    The fishwives were identified by there different dress. Newhaven girls wore white stockings (best dress) and black when working and were known by the Fisherrow wives as the Pantomime Fishwives and the Fisherrow wives wore black stockings.Their creels were different too Fisherrow had leather straps and Newhaven white canvas straps.
    The famous Ganseys or guerneys were worn by all fishermen with different patterns for each port. They could be seen at the Box Walks Fisherrow on 1st Friday and Port seton on “2nd Friday in September Now the knitters have almost died out but a lady called Gladys Thompson wrote a book called ” Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys, and Arans” which covered the Fisherrow and Scottish Fleet patterns now taken up with a knitting company called Flamborough Marine who did a beaut for me! Signing off” The Sooth Firth Correspondent” as I was known up at Anster,

  22. HelenB says:

    Wow! Amazing what inspires some people 🙂 Mrs Thorburn must have been a fascinating person to make such an impression. Thanks for the info re the fishing boats too.

  23. Charles Cameron Carruthers says:

    Correction to my story of the Fisherrow fishing boats lost. The Confidence LH196 and the Better Hope LH ? were the two boats lost and Amies dad Sandy Brown was crewing on Golden Effort and Remembrance between the Wars.One other point I would like to make was, I was told by Amie that a young lad I think in Stow was fascinated by watching a Mrs Thorburn a Fisherrow fishwife gutting the different types of fish at his home that in later life he became a prominent leading bone surgeon and during a talk in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh mentioned this fact,that the skeletons of the different fish had him hooked !!!.

    1. John thorburn says:

      I wonder if the Fisherrow lady was my Gran Elizabeth Thorburn we have a picture in our house with her and her basket. My dad left Fisherrow to start a fish processing business in Seahouses.

      1. John thorburn says:

        The photo shows gran Elizabeth nee Walker with her mum and dad outside their shop at 84 Causewayside Embra. I think great grandad survived the 1880’s October gale that caused such destruction on the east coast and deaths at sea

        1. Bob Hogg says:

          Hi John/everyone

          I wonder anyone on this forum has any knowledge, photo’s etc of a Fisherrow fishwive named Elizabeth Harvey Walker born in 1889 at 1 Beach Lane Fisherrow. She was the daughter of a fisherman named Robert Walker and his wife Margaret Naysmith. She married a David Porteous Marshall and I believe they had a family. After David’s death she remarried a John Russell Finlay Davidson in 1958 when I think she may still have been a working Fishwife. After their marriage Elizabeth and John lived at her home at 4 Links Avenue Musselburgh until Elizabeth died in 1967. John stayed on at this address until 1976. I know about JRF Davidson as he was my wife’s grandfather buy I would love to more about Elizabeth Harvey walkers earlier years and marriage to David P. Marshall etc.

      2. Robert Ritchie says:

        Hi John your dad was my uncle \archie Brother uncle Archie was married to Jean( nee)Brown my mother’s sister and sister to Jimmy and Alie Allison . I was a Fisherman for 29 years and often landed in

        1. Louise Mclaren. says:

          Are you related to my Great Gran’s father David Craig and Marion Ritchie. ? Fisherman and Great Gran Fisherwomen.

  24. HelenB says:

    What a wonderful story, Charles! Thank you so much for sharing that. And what a long way those fisher boats ended up travelling – sad that they met their fate as part of the war effort.

  25. charles cameron carruthers says:

    I was a volunteer researcher for the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther some years past and one of the people I came across was Amie Orr of New Street in Fisherrow who had carried the creel in her time . She told me she went to Fife with her Sisters and Mum on the train and she walked to Aberdour while her sisters sold fish in North Queensferry and her Mum went to Dunfermline.One of her customers were a bachelor farming brothers who always had their sink piled up with unwashed dishes and Amie had to clean up to gut her fish in the sink and some time they had no cash and paid her with rabbits and pheasants.I took her to Aberdour one evening to a historical local event and Amie was dressed in her fishwives costume.She actually met some of her old customer friends whom she sold fish to at the railway station entrance where they used to queue up to buy the fish.It made her evening! Amie was off the Brown family of Fisherrow and her Dad owned the Golden Effort.Two Fisherrow boats were lost in World War 2 Confidence was one and Brighter Hope the other, somewhere near Ceylon.

    1. Eileen McMath says:

      I believe Amie may have been related to Margaret Orr of New Street, who was in my class at school. Margaret married an Elgin, also from Fisherrow and I believe they still have a lot to do with the Honest Toun Association. I have just posted 2 photos of the Musselburgh Fishwives to the history site but unfortunately do not know all the names – it is possible Amie is in this.

  26. HelenB says:

    Thanks to both Louise and Justin for these comments! Very interesting. Louise, I think we contacted you by email, but do let us know if you still need information. Justin, we’d love to meet your grandmother, and – if she’s willing – record an interview with her for our oral history collection. Might that be possible?

    1. louise Mclaren says:

      Sorry my Gran died of Cancer many years ago now, please post if anyone is related, I know little about this side of the family and only knew Geat Gran when I was a child, lovley lady. i ate fish in every form and remember Great Gran as being a very ‘down to earth’ and happy lady. Marion Craig and her husband was Francis Mclean,
      my e mail is [email protected]

  27. Justin Armet says:

    My grandmother Steedie Falconer nee Fleming is aged 95 and as far as I am aware is the last living Fisherow Fishwife.

  28. My Great Gran was one of the
    Fisherrow Fishwives and was called Marion Ritchie Craig. Her father owned a boat and called David Craig. Any information please send for my family tree to .. macloui1(at)

    thank you
    Louise Mclaren

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