A Hobbit family descended from Samwise Gamgee, taking their name from his fame as a gardener, and especially his replanting of the Shire after the destruction of the War of the Ring. The Gardners became one of the most important families in the Shire during the Fourth Age, but we have little detailed information about their deeds. One thing that is noted is their ongoing influence in the affairs of the Shire-hobbits, suggesting that perhaps certain members succeeded their ancestor Samwise as Mayors.
The circumstances of the Gardner family's foundation are a little unclear. It is stated categorically that Samwise himself was the founder, and on one occasion (in his old age) he is actually called 'Sam Gardner', which would imply that Sam himself adopted the name in place of 'Gamgee'. On the other hand, his genealogy shows only one of his children - his eldest son Frodo - taking up the name. Frodo's line is given in some detail, down to his grandson Harding of the Hill, so his seems to have been the most strongly established branch of the Gardners. What's less clear is whether Frodo was the only Gardner among Sam's thirteen children, or if any of his brothers or sisters would have also used the name.1
This uncertainty raises a certain practical difficulty of organisation: for most of Sam Gamgee's children, we can't be sure whether their family name would have been 'Gamgee' or 'Gardner'. In this encyclopedia, we've assumed 'Gamgee' except where 'Gardner' is explicitly stated (in the sole case of Frodo Gardner), but there is an argument to be made that Sam's entire family should be listed as the 'Gardners' rather than the 'Gamgees'.
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