The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Race
Culture
Family
Settlements
Overhill, near Hobbiton in the Shire
Meaning
Uncertain1
Other names
Nicknamed 'Hal'

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About this entry:

  • Updated 8 June 2019
  • This entry is complete

Halfast ‘Hal’ Gamgee

A cousin of Samwise Gamgee

The only recorded son of Halfred of Overhill. Halfred was the younger brother of Hamfast Gamgee, and so Halfast was an older cousin to Hamfast's famous son Samwise. Like his father, Halfast lived at Overhill near Hobbiton, where he worked for a Mr. Boffin.2 He would travel at times onto the North Moors of the Shire's Northfarthing, and it was there that he claimed to have seen an enormous 'Tree-man' as tall as an elm. It remains unclear how reliable Halfast's account should be considered, but it was certainly met with skepticism when his cousin Samwise reported it in the Green Dragon at Bywater.


Notes

1

It is far from clear whether the name Halfast is intended to be meaningful, and it may simply be follow the pattern of Halfast's father Halfred. However, the name is notably similar in structure to that of Sam Gamgee's father Hamfast (said to mean 'stay-at-home', or literally 'home-fast') which does tend to imply that Halfast carried some intended meaning.

Possible sources for the Hal- element might Old English heal, 'nook, hiding-place', or heall, 'house, home', in which case Halfast would be share a similar meaning to Hamfast. There may also be a connection to healsfæst, 'obstinate' or 'stubborn', which would fit the tendency among the members of the Gamgee family towards names that were both comical and mildly disparaging.

2

The identity of this 'Mr. Boffin' is never stated explicitly, at least in the published text of The Lord of the Rings. He was originally named as one 'Fosco Boffin', son of Jago Boffin, but in the genealogies of the Boffin family Jago's son is named not as 'Fosco' but as 'Vigo'. The simplest assumption would be that Tolkien simply changed the character's name, so Vigo Boffin is the most likely identity of 'Mr. Boffin' of Overhill.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 8 June 2019
  • This entry is complete

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