A fishwife or fish fag is a woman who sells
fish. [cite book|title=Oxford English Dictionary|url=http://www.oed.com|accessdate=2008-04-27|quote=A woman who sells fish] Such women were notoriously loud and foul-mouthed as in the proverb, "To swear like a fishwife". One reason for their outspokenness is that their wares were highly perishable and so lost value if not sold quickly. [citation|url=http://res.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/citation/XXXII/126/187|title=Touchstone's Butterwomen|author=Gary Taylor|journal=The Review of English Studies|year=1981|volume=XXXII|issue=126|pages=187-193|doi=10.1093/res/XXXII.126.187|publisher=Oxford University Press]
London's traditional fish market was frequented by such types who were known as "the wives of
Billingsgate". "They dressed in strong 'stuff' gowns and quilted petticoats; their hair, caps and bonnets were flattened into one indistinguishable mass upon their heads. ... They smoked small pipes of tobacco, took snuff, drank gin and were known for their colourful language." [cite book|title=London: The Biography|author=Peter Ackroyd|isbn=0385497717|year=2003|publisher=Anchor]
The case "Bourhill v Young" of 1942 concerned a pregnant Glasgow fishwife who had suffered psychiatric illness after witnessing a motorcycle accident. This went to the
House of Lordswhich held that a person of "customary phlegm" would not have been expected to suffer so. [citation|url=http://www.scottishlawreports.org.uk/resources/keycases/bvy/bourhill-v-young-report.html|title=Bourhill v Young|Publisher=Scottish Council of Law Reporting|date=5 August 1942]
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