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First recorded in about III 2670 (1070 by the Shire-reckoning); survived at least to the end of the Third Age1
Associated with Longbottom in the Shire's Southfarthing
A translation of Raspúta, 'horn-blower'2


About this entry:

  • Updated 11 September 2011
  • This entry is complete

Hornblower Family

Producers of the Shire's most famous Pipe-weed

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An old and important family of the Shire's Southfarthing. Its most famous member was Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom, who introduced pipe-weed into the Shire, and his family remained associated with the industry. Their Longbottom Leaf variety was famous, and indeed barrels of Leaf bearing the Hornblower mark were found as far afield as the ruins of Isengard.

From Tobold's time, and perhaps earlier, the Hornblowers were one of the Shire's more important families. Frodo Baggins himself had Hornblower blood - his great-grandfather Largo married one Tanta Hornblower. The meaning of this old family name is unclear; perhaps one of Tobold's ancestors actually did blow a horn of some kind, or perhaps the name is a punning reference to pipe smoking.



Tobold Hornblower introduced pipe-weed to the Shire in about III 2670, the first time the name appears in records. Though the last individual Hornblower to be mentioned is Amethyst (the wife of Rudibert Bolger, who was born in III 2860), we can be sure that the family itself continued down to the end of the Third Age. There are numerous references to the Hornblowers in this later period, as well as a specific mention of some of them attending Bilbo's Farewell Party.


'Hornblower' is a real English surname, apparently relating to the occupation of rowsing sleeping workers to their work (Tolkien confirms that it is intended as an occupational surname, but isn't specific about the particular occupation he had in mind.) Given the family's ongoing association with pipes and smoking, it's tempting to suspect that there may be an additional punning connection between pipes and horns at work in this family's name.

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