Once again, with the upcoming movie The Hobbit just around the corner, I thought I’d continue my celebrating. In case you have forgotten or didn’t know in the first place, I wrote a list last week that pulled together some rather fantastic portrayals of Smaug in anticipation for his second film appearance. This week, I’m going to introduce to you ten hobbits who have had a significant impact in the Shire, some good and some bad. Please note, your standard hobbits do NOT appear in this list, nor should they. While hobbits Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen are all important and significant, if you want to learn more about them, there are four books which should educate you just fine.
This list is for the beginner hobbit-aficionados. Before we dive into the list, here is a quick geography lesson for those not familiar with the Shire beyond knowing it’s where the hobbits live. The Shire is divided up into counties called farthings, and as such there are four farthings: East-, West-, North-, and Southfarthing. These regions belonged to the Shire pre-War of the Ring, while the lands Buckland and Westmarch had been considered unofficial hobbit territory until King Elessar (Aragorn) granted it to the Shire. While hobbits are officially under the reign of whomever is ruler of Arnor (Or Arthedain, I’ll be using them interchangeably), they are more or less a self-governing region with two “ruling” officials. First there is the Thain (an inherited title from the Oldbuck clan and now the Took clan) and second is the Mayor of Michel Delving, being the capitol of the Shire.
Also, there are three kinds of hobbits: Fallohides, Harfoots, and Stoors, each with their own characteristics but which were all bred out with the introduction marrying outside your strain.
10. Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took
Before Merry and Pippen got a hold of the Ent-draught from Treebeard that caused their unexpected growth spurt, Bandobras Took was the tallest hobbit on record at a whopping 4’5”! Not only was he the tallest among hobbits, he was one of the most daring, leading a defense attack against orcs at the Battle of Greenfields in the year 2747, being the first battle ever fought within the Shire. Over 100 years before the events of The Hobbit, Orcs from the Misty Mountains began to invade lands that were under the control of the Dunedain of the kingdom of Arnor, which included the Shire. During the battle, it is said that Took inadvertently created the sport of golf when he decapitated the invading Orc leader, Golfimbul (golf, Golfimbul… get it?), with his club and the head rolled into a rabbit’s burrow.
9. Paladin II Took
Another famous Took, Paladin II was the 19th head of the Took clan,and the 31st Thain, the title of the military leader of the Shire. When Saruman began taking over the Shire during the events of the Lord of the Rings by using fellow hobbit Lotho Sackville-Baggins, Paladin II stood up to Lotho by resisting his authority and calling upon the military power of his position as Thain. As a result, the Tooks’ resistance force became central to the power struggle between Saruman’s men and the Shire. In addition, Paladin II granted 100 hobbit troops to the final battle of the War of the Ring, the Battle of Bywater, wherein Saruman’s forces were defeated and run out of the Shire.
8. Gerontius “The Old” Took
Did you know that the Greek word “geron” means old or elderly? Do you see how this hobbit’s name is Gerontius? Have you also noticed that finding links that may or may not exist between words and names is something I like doing? The answer to all of these questions is yes! Gerontius Took was the oldest hobbit ever until Bilbo came along and unknowingly cheated his way into the title via a magic ring, you might have heard of it. Gerontius lived until the ripe old age of 130 years old, 72 of which were spent as the Thain of the Shire. He was a Thain with more troubles than most, as during what became known as the Fell Winter of the Third Age, he not only had an unprecidented harsh winter to see his people through, but wolves. With the snow and the ice, there also came White Wolves which he later drove out. The other 71 years and odd monthes that he was Thain was spent in luxury, and he had 12 children in all of that spare time. As a result, he was somewhat responsible for Bilbo, Frodo, Merry, and Pippen as he is various combinations of great- and grandfather to them.
7. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
I reckon that most people reading this list are at least somewhat familiar with our first lady hobbit to make the list, even if they can’t think of why. Lobelia’s appearances have always been brief and unpleasant for at least one person involved. She popped up in the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, harassing Bilbo while he’s trying to have tea with Gandalf before his big party. If you’ve read the books though, you know that Lobelia shows up in The Hobbit, envying Bilbo’s home and waiting for his death so that her husband can inherit the lavish hobbit hole. She does get Bag End, though, when Frodo sells it to her so that he can begin his journey with the One Ring. She also is the mother of Lotho, a hobbit who will be examined later for his own contributions. What makes Lobelia a part of this list isn’t her relation to Bilbo or even her son, but rather how her stubborness and fiery nature turn her from being a thoroughly unliked hobbit to somewhat of a hero. When Saruman’s men attempted to build onto her beloved and long sought after hobbit hole, she put up a fuss to such an extent that she began beating one of the men with her umbrella until she was arrested and sent to prison. After her release at the conclusion of the Battle of Bywater, she returned Bag End to Frodo and moved back to the Northfarthing where the remainder of her family lived. The entire ordeal, from her son’s presumed death to her arrest, moved her so that she was not as unfriendly as she once had been. Upon her death, she donated her substantial wealth to help hobbits left homeless by Saruman’s takeover.
6. Lotho “Pimple” Sackville-Baggins
If someone’s nickname is “Pimple” you can safely bet that nothing good is going to happen to this person. Lotho was a rather unimportant hobbit until he began selling Southfarthing pipeweed to Saruman. With the money he was making, Lotho began to buy land in the Southfarthing, and eventually appointed himself the “Chief Shirriff” after he ousted the Mayor of Michel Delving. Lotho was able to do this because not only was Saruman sending Lotho money, but he began sending men as well. Lotho used his money and power to try and industrialize the Shire, and ended up destroying much of the land’s beauty and wasting it’s natural resources. Eventually, Saruman reveals that Lotho had been murdered by Grima Wormtongue, and possibly eaten by Grima. Ew. That’s what you get for letting your mom get sent to jail.
5. Blanco and Marcho
Blanco and Marcho were brothers, Fallohide hobbits from the town of Bree. In 1601, the brothers set out west from Bree to find new lands with some of their friends and family. They became enamored of the unsettled and fertile land that they found, not knowing that what they had stumbled upon was the hunting lands of King Argeleb II of Arthedain (later Arnor). The king gave the hobbits permission to settle in his hunting grounds, on the conditions that they would be under the king’s rule, keeps all roads through the Shire usable, and aid any King’s messengers. Eventually, Stoors and later Harfoots settled in the Shire as well, and the three strains of hobbit intermingled together into the hobbits we know and love today.
4. Tobold “Old Toby” Hornblower
A salt of the earth hobbit from Longbottom, Old Toby was the first of the hobbits to grow, smoke, and sell tobacco leaf, or pipe-weed as it is more commonly known in Middle-Earth. He came across the practice during an excursion in Bree when he would interact with the Men living in the town. The South-farthing, where he lived, proved to be the best soil in the Shire for the plant, and in fact did so well that South-farthing pipe-weed was considered to be the best in Middle-Earth and was the only thing to put hobbits on the map before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It was their biggest and best export, and was notably popular with Saruman. In fact, he found out about it from Gandalf who would frequent the Shire for his love of the little folk, and Saruman mocked him for his taste in pipe-weed until he tried it himself some time later. So began his secret shame: South-farthing pipe-weed.
3. Elanor Gamgee, or Elanor the Fair
Elanor was the first child of Sam and Rosie Gamgee (or Gardner, although all children but one used the surname Gamgee). She was named at Frodo’s suggestion for the golden flowers in Lothlorien, being blonde and exceptionally beautiful. Upon a visit from King Elessar to Sam, Queen Arwen bestowed upon Elanor the title of being her maid of honour, a position for girls too young to be ladies-in-waiting to royalty. She later married Fastred of Greenholm, and later moved to Westmarch, now officially a part of the Shire, as her husband had become the Warden of Westmarch. Elanor’s important contribution to hobbitlore is in her guardianship of the Red Book of Westmarch which Sam entrusted to her care before he sailed away to the Undying Lands to join the other Ring-bearers. This is possibly the most important book written in the Third Age, as it is the book wherein Biblo’s tale, Frodo‘s tale, and Sam’s additions were written.
2. Bucca of the Marish
Bucca is a relatively unknown hobbit, but his contribution to hobbits is immeasurable. Without him, there would have been no Oldbuck family, and therefore no Brandybuck family, and certainly no Thain of the Shire. He and other hobbits settled down in what would later be known as the Eastfarthing after the fall of the last king of Arthedain, and all of the Dunedain were gone. The hobbits, finding themselves without a governing authority, elected Bucca to be their leader. He became the first to take up the title Thain of the Shire. All Masters of Buckland are descended from Bucca, and as such he is the ancestor of one of the most powerful and influential families in the Shire.
1. Isumbras Took the First
While Isumbras was not the first Took, he was the first Took to become Thain, and title traiditionally held by the Oldbuck line. However, when Gorhenhad Oldbuck decided to expand his lands beyond the Brandywine River, when he left, he also left behind his title. Isumbras became the new Thain, possibly through election, and started a new Thain trend. The title would now pass form father to son, whereas in the Oldbuck family, whomever was Thain changed his surname to reflect his position. Isumbras now not only hailed from the other wealthy family in the Shire, but had effectively guaranteed that his family would forever more be top dog within the Shire.