Nicholas Fish II (February 19, 1846–September 16, 1902) was a United States diplomat who served as the ambassador to Switzerland from 1877 to 1881 and the ambassador to Belgium from 1882 to 1885. In a widely reported crime of the time known as the "sensation of the day,"[4] Fish was murdered while leaving a New York City bar.[5][6]

Nicholas Fish II
United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
April 28, 1882 – July 3, 1885
Preceded byJames O. Putnam
Succeeded byLambert Tree
United States Ambassador to Switzerland
In office
June 20, 1877 – May 11, 1881
Preceded byGeorge Schneider
Succeeded byMichael J. Cramer
Personal details
Born(1846-02-19)February 19, 1846
New York City
DiedSeptember 16, 1902(1902-09-16) (aged 56)
New York City
Resting placeSaint Philip's Church Cemetery
Garrison, New York
Political partyRepublican
Clemence Smith Bryce[1]
(m. 1869)
Children2, including Hamilton Fish II[2]
Parent(s)Hamilton Fish (1808-1893)[3]
Julia Ursin Niemcewiez (née Kean) Fish (1816–1887)[3]
Alma materColumbia University
Harvard Law School
ProfessionLawyer, diplomat, banker

Fish was a member of the long prominent, and wealthy, Fish family that was closely associated with politics from the Revolutionary War times through modern times with members serving as Lt. Governors and Governors of New York, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and many diplomats.[5]

Early life


Fish was born in New York City on February 19, 1846. He was the eldest son of six children born to Hamilton Fish (1808–1893) and Julia Ursin Niemcewiez (née Kean) Fish (1816–1887).[3] His father served as Governor of New York from 1849 to 1851, U.S. Senator from New York from 1851 to 1857 and the Secretary of State under Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes from 1869 until his retirement in 1877.[6] His siblings included Sarah Morris Fish, Julia Kean Fish, Susan Le Roy Fish, Hamilton Fish II, Stuyvesant Fish, and Edith Livingston Fish.[6]

His maternal uncle was U.S. Senator John Kean and he was a great-grandson of Continental Congressmen John Kean and Susan Livingston Kean (herself the daughter of New York State Treasurer Peter Van Brugh Livingston).[7] Her family was also associated with the Wadsworths, the Kings, and the Duers.[6] His paternal grandparents were American Revolutionary War soldier Nicholas Fish and Elizabeth (née Stuyvesant) Fish,[6] a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant and the daughter of Margaret (née Livingston) Stuyvesant.[7]

He was educated at Columbia University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1867 and a Master of Arts in 1871.[8] While there, he was a member of the Fraternity of Delta Psi (St. Anthony Hall).[9]

He also attended Harvard Law School earning a Bachelor of Laws in 1869.[10]



Following his graduation from law school, he practiced law in New York City, then went into the diplomatic service.[5]

Appointed as the Second Secretary of Legation at Berlin (1871), he became Secretary (1874) and acted in the continued absence of his chief as chargé d'affaires, held the latter position in Switzerland (1877–81) and then served as minister to Belgium (1882–86). He returned to New York City in 1887 and became a member of the banking firm of Harriman & Co. at 120 Broadway, of which his brother Stuyvesant was the President.[5]

Following the death of his father, he became a member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati in 1894 and later served as president of the New York Society,[5] as well as a member of the New-York Historical Society and the Union Club of the City of New York, beginning in 1873.[6]

In the 1896 presidential election, he was a presidential elector.[11]



In 1869, Fish married Clemence Smith Bryce (1847–1908),[1] the daughter of Major James Smith Bryce.[6] She was the sister of Lloyd Stephens Bryce, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to the Netherlands,[12] who was married to Edith Cooper,[13][14] the daughter of New York Mayor Edward Cooper. Together, they were the parents of two children:

Together, they lived at 53 Irving Place near Grammercy Park in New York City[16] and maintained a residence in Tuxedo Park, New York.[6]

Death and burial


Fish was fatally assaulted in New York City on September 16, 1902, after spending several hours in the company of two women at the Ehrhard Brothers saloon at 265 West 34th Street, off of Eighth Avenue.[4] According to The New York Times, the two women he was with that night "were well known in that vicinity. They live in West Thirty-fourth Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and are usually accompanied by two men, one a salesman of jewelry."[4] Fish died from blunt force trauma to the head after being struck while exiting the saloon.[17][18] Thomas J. Sharkey was convicted of manslaughter and subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison. Fish was buried at Saint Philip's Church Cemetery in Garrison, New York.[5] In 1903, his widow sold their home in Irving Place.[19] She died in 1908.[1]



Through his daughter Elizabeth, he was the grandfather of Hamilton Fish Potter (d. 1978), a member of the New York State Assembly,[20] and the great-grandfather of Hamilton Fish Potter, Jr. (d. 1997), also a Harvard lawyer who worked in banking.[21]


  1. ^ a b c "MRS. NICHOLAS FISH DIES IN WASHINGTON; Widow of New York Banker and Diplomat Succumbs to a Second Stroke of Apoplexy. MOTHER OF HAMILTON FISH Her Son Was Killed in the Spanish War--Social Rival of Her Sister-in-Law, Mrs. Stuyvsant Fish". The New York Times. 12 December 1908. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "HAMILTON FISH'S FUNERAL; Buried with Military Honors After Impressive Services in St. Mark's Church. WOUNDED SOLDIERS PRESENT Interment at Garrisons-on-the-Hudson, Where Volleys Were Fired Over the Grave and "Taps" Were Sounded". The New York Times. 30 July 1898. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "City's Tribute to Hamilton Fish". The New York Times. 14 September 1893. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "NICHOLAS FISH FOUND SENSELESS, DIES LATER; Skull Fractured After a Visit to a Saloon. Mrs. Fish at the Banker's Bedside in Roosevelt Hospital Until the End -- How He Received His Injuries a Mystery". The New York Times. 16 September 1902. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Herringshaw, Thomas William (1909). Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States; Illustrated with Three Thousand Vignette Portraits ... American Publishers' Association. p. 452. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "NICHOLAS FISH WAS KILLED BY VIOLENCE; Coroner, After Autopsy, Says a Fall Not Sufficient. THREE ARRESTS IN THE CASE Private Detective Sharkey Held in $10,000 Bail and Two Women Detained as Witnesses of the Fatal Quarrel". The New York Times. 17 September 1902. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b Livingston, E. Brockholst (1910). The Livingstons of Livingston Manor; Being the History of that Branch of the Scottish House of Callendar Which Settled in the English Province of New York During the Reign of Charles the Second; and also including an Account of Robert Livingston of Albany, "The Nephew," a Settler in the Same Province and His Principal Descendants. The Knickerbocker Press. p. 541. ISBN 9785872064213. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  8. ^ Columbia University Quarterly, Vol. 5. 1902. p. 249. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  9. ^ Baird, William Raimond (1879). "Delta Psi". American College Fraternities: A Descriptive Analysis of the Society System in the Colleges of the United States, with Detailed Account of Each Fraternity (1st ed.). Philadelphia, PA: J. P. Lippman & Co. pp. 59–61 – via The Hathi Trust.
  10. ^ Thayer, William Roscoe; Castle, William Richards; Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe; Pier, Arthur Stanwood; Voto, Bernard Augustine De; Morrison, Theodore (1903). The Harvard Graduates' Magazine. Harvard Graduates' Magazine Association. p. 307. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  11. ^ Proceedings of the Electoral College of the State of New York, January 11th, 1897. Albany. 1897. p. 29. hdl:2027/nnc1.cu54374480.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ "Mrs. Bryce's Estate Left to Family". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 7 June 1916. Retrieved 18 October 2015., page 8
  14. ^ "Mrs. Bryce Left $3,000,000. Husband and Son Principal Beneficiaries Under Will". The New York Times. 7 June 1916. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Mrs. R. B. Potter". The New York Times. 8 October 1954. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  16. ^ "HE ABUSED BANKER FISH.; A Mendicant Turns On a Torrent of Vicious Language When Refused Alms". The New York Times. January 17, 1894. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  17. ^ "CORONER HOLDS SHARKEY FOR KILLING MR. FISH; Two Witnesses Testify to Seeing Fatal Blow Struck. Women in the Banker's Company Say They Went Away When Fatal Quarrel Was Started". The New York Times. 23 September 1902. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  18. ^ "ANOTHER FISH CASE WITNESS.; Sharkey Says He Struck but One Blow -- The Funeral at St. Mark's". The New York Times. 18 September 1902. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  19. ^ "IN THE REAL ESTATE FIELD; Dealings Confined to Small Properties -- Mrs. Fish Sells Irving Place Residence -- Auction Results". The New York Times. 29 July 1903. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Hamilton F. Potter, An Ex‐Assemblyman From L.I., Dies at 77". The New York Times. 28 June 1978. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Hamilton F. Potter, 68, Lawyer Who Represented Leading Banks". The New York Times. 31 March 1997. Retrieved 4 January 2018.