In Richard Altick’s incomparable The Shows of London he relates how a mermaid was exhibited at the Turf Coffeehouse, St. James’s Street, in 1822. It was the usual shrivelled specimen: the body of a monkey and a salmon cobbled together, which was said to have been caught alive by a Japanese fisherman. It was bought in Batavia by the captain of an American whaling ship for $5,000. When a dispute arose over its legal ownership, the case came before the Court of Chancery, leading to much mirth over a mermaid being a ward in Chancery (and an engraving by George Cruikshank with the punning title“A Mermaid in Chancery Holding in Tail.”) The Lord Chancellor gave judgment in favour of the ship’s owner, not the captain. The creature was taken to the United States and bought by Barnum, who dubbed it the Fee Jee Mermaid. [x]

In Richard Altick’s incomparable The Shows of London he relates how a mermaid was exhibited at the Turf Coffeehouse, St. James’s Street, in 1822. It was the usual shrivelled specimen: the body of a monkey and a salmon cobbled together, which was said to have been caught alive by a Japanese fisherman. It was bought in Batavia by the captain of an American whaling ship for $5,000. When a dispute arose over its legal ownership, the case came before the Court of Chancery, leading to much mirth over a mermaid being a ward in Chancery (and an engraving by George Cruikshank with the punning title“A Mermaid in Chancery Holding in Tail.”) The Lord Chancellor gave judgment in favour of the ship’s owner, not the captain. The creature was taken to the United States and bought by Barnum, who dubbed it the Fee Jee Mermaid. [x]