The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Extant at the end of the Third Age1
Race
Cultures
Bree-hobbits and Shire-hobbits (possibly branches of the same ancestral family)
Meaning
'From a steep hillside slope'2

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About this entry:

  • Updated 2 August 2018
  • This entry is complete

Banks Family

A common family of Hobbits

A family name widely used among the Hobbits. Taken from a 'bank' in the sense of a slope or a hillside, the name was found in the Shire, and also in Bree (it's unclear whether these were two branches of the same Banks family, or whether the name was adopted independently by two distinct families).

We have records of two individual Hobbits who had the family name of 'Banks'. One of these was Eglantine Banks, a Shire-hobbit who married Paladin Took and was the mother of Peregrin of the Company of the Ring. The fact that Eglantine married the future Thain of the Shire implies that, in the Shire at least, the Banks family was a well-regarded one. The other Banks in records was a Bree-hobbit, Willie Banks, who was killed in the fighting that broke out when the ruffians came to Bree during the War of the Ring. (If these two were related, then their connection must have been very distant; indeed, Peregrin Took was present when Willie Banks' death was revealed, and showed no signs of recognising a member of his mother's family.)


Notes

1

We have few concrete dates associated with Hobbits named 'Banks'. Eglantine Banks was evidently born in the early thirtieth century of the Third Age, and given typical Hobbit lifespans she probably lived on into the early Fourth Age. We also know that Willie Banks of Bree was one of the casualties in the fighting there during the War of the Ring. So, the most we can say for sure is that both known Hobbits named 'Banks' were alive in the closing years of the Third Age.

2

'Banks' is a common family name in the real world as well as among Hobbits. Both names share an origin, associating the family with a slope or steep hillside (this is not only the real derivation of the name, but one that Tolkien explicitly gives for the Hobbit version). For Hobbits, we might imagine the ancestral members of the family actually tunnelling into their hillside banks to create Hobbit-holes, though Tolkien himself does not go so far in his brief explanation of the name.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 2 August 2018
  • This entry is complete

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