The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Location
Origins
A title originally conferred on Bucca of the Marish, and handed down through many generations
Race
Culture
Settlements
From III 2340, the seat of the Thains was at Great Smials in the Tookland
Family
Originally the Oldbucks, but later the Tooks
Meaning
From an Old English word thegn, used of chieftains, but originally meaning 'servant' or 'soldier'
Other names
Title of
At least thirty-five Hobbits of the Shire

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About this entry:

  • Updated 13 May 2006
  • Updates planned: 3

Thain of the Shire

Title of the Oldbucks and the Tooks

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
THE OLDBUCK LINE
Bucca of the Marish
Ten Thains of
the Oldbuck line
Gorhendad Oldbuck

THE TOOK LINE
Isumbras I
Eight Thains of
the Took line
Isengrim II
Isumbras III
Ferumbras II
Bandobras the Bullroarer
Fortinbras I
Gerontius
The Old Took
Isengrim III
Hildigard
Isumbras IV
Hildigrim
Eight other sons and daughters
Fortinbras II
Adalgrim
Ferumbras III
Three daughters
Paladin II
Esmeralda
Pearl
Pimpernel
Pervinca
Peregrin I
Faramir I
Further generations
of Shire-thains

The descent of the office of Thain of the Shire through the Oldbuck and Took lines, from Bucca the first Thain to Faramir I the last known. Names shown in bold held the office of Thain.

The largely honorary title of the military leader of the Shire. The first Shire-thain was Bucca of the Marish, and the title was held by eleven of his descendants (known as the Oldbucks) until their removal across the River Brandywine to Buckland. Thereafter the title was held by the head of the Took clan, from Isumbras I onwards.

It is known that there were at least thirty-three Shire-thains, from Bucca, who became Thain in III 1979, to Faramir I, who took on the title in IV 63, more than a thousand years later.

I Bucca of the Marish (Thain from III 1979)
The first Thain was given the title in III 1979 (379 by the Shire-reckoning) in a time when the northern lands were recovering from a devastating war in which the old kingdom of Arthedain had come to an end. He was succeeded by Thains of the Oldbuck line.
II-XI Ten Thains of the Oldbuck line (Thains for about three hundred years to III 2340)
Bucca was followed by Thains whose names are not recorded, but who took the surname 'Oldbuck' in honour of their ancestor.
XII Gorhendad Oldbuck (Thain to III 2340)
The line of the Oldbucks came to an end with Gorhendad, who crossed the River Brandywine and founded Buckland, changing his name to Brandybuck. The Thainship passed from him to the Took family, and Gorhendad was succeeded by the first Thain of the Took line.
XIII Isumbras I (Thain from III 2340)
The thirteenth Thain in line from Bucca, and the first of the Took line. Isumbras' descendants would hold the Thainship for the rest of the recorded history of the Shire.
XIV-XXI Eight Thains of the Took line (Thains for about two hundred years to III 2683)
The eight Tooks to hold the Thainship after Isumbras I are nowhere named, but we can infer some of their identities from the names of later holders of the office. Among these eight must have been Isengrim I, Ferumbras I, Paladin I and Isumbras II, but no records of their Thainships are known.
XXII Isengrim II (Thain for 39 years to III 2722)
The twenty-second Thain, and tenth of the Took line. He began the excavation of Great Smials, which would become the seat of the Thains in the Tookland. He became Thain soon after the first pipe-weed was introduced into the Shire by Tobold Hornblower. He was succeeded by his son.
XXIII Isumbras III (Thain for 32 years to III 2759)
His younger son was Bandobras Took1, the famous 'Bullroarer'. In Isumbras' time the Shire was greatly troubled by Orcs, and Bandobras defeated a band of them at the Battle of Greenfields during his Thainship. Bandobras, though, was Isumbras' younger son - the Thainship passed instead to his older brother.
XXIV Ferumbras II (Thain for 42 years to III 2801)
He was succeeded by his son.
XXV Fortinbras I (Thain for 47 years to III 2848)
At the beginning of his Thainship, the Shire would have seen much activity as Dwarves of Durin's Folk travelled westward to settle in the Blue Mountains. He was succeeded by his son.
XXVI Gerontius (Thain for 72 years to III 2920)
The famous Old Took, who held the office of Thain for a total of seventy-two of his one hundred and thirty years, and had a total of twelve children. During his Thainship, the Shire suffered the dreadful privations of the Fell Winter, and invasions of White Wolves. He was succeeded by the eldest of his many sons.
XXVII Isengrim III (Thain for 10 years to III 2930)
Due to the Old Took's many years in office, his eldest son Isengrim was no less than eighty-eight years old when he inherited the Thainship. He held it for just ten years and died without leaving an heir. He was succeeded by his younger brother.
XXVIII Isumbras IV (Thain for 9 years to III 2939)
Like his brother Isengrim, Isumbras came old to the Thainship, being ninety-two when he took office. After his short time as the Shire-thain, he was succeeded by his son.
XXIX Fortinbras II (Thain for 41 years to III 2980)
Early in his time as Thain there was a sensation in Hobbiton, due to the mysterious disappearance into the Wild - and later reappearance - of one Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. Fortinbras was succeeded by his son.
XXX Ferumbras III (Thain for 35 years to III 3015)
He was Thain at the time of Bilbo Baggins' famous farewell feast and Birthday Party, which indeed he attended. He never married, and so left no heir. The descent of the Thainship passed to the line of Gerontius' fourth son Hildigrim, and specifically to Hildigrim's grandson.
XXXI Paladin II (Thain for 19 years to IV 13)
Born in the time that his great uncle Isumbras IV was Thain, Paladin took up a farming life at Whitwell in the Tookland. He was Thain during the War of the Ring, and held the Tookland against the ruffians who invaded the Shire at that time. He was succeeded by his fourth child, but eldest son.
XXXII Peregrin I (Thain for 50 years to IV 63)
Peregrin Took of the Fellowship of the Ring inherited the Thainship some thirteen years after his return from adventuring in the south, and held the title into his old age. At the age of ninety-four, he gave up the office and rode away once again into the countries of the south with his friend Meriadoc Brandybuck; they were never seen in the Shire again. He was succeeded by his son.
XXXIII Faramir I (Thain from IV 63)
Named for Faramir the Prince of Ithilien, little is known of Thain Faramir, except that he married Sam Gamgee's daughter Goldilocks. Doubtless he was succeeded by further generations of Shire-thains, but of them we have no record2.

Notes

1

In earlier editions of the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings, Bandobras is stated to be the son of Isengrim II, not Isumbras III. This is a reference to an earlier phase in Tolkien's development of the Tooks' genealogy, in which he actually was the son of Isengrim (Isengrim I at that time, later to be transformed into Isengrim II). It seems that the Prologue text wasn't updated to keep pace with changes to the genealogy, but more recent editions have corrected this relationship.

2

It's safe to presume that there were at least two further Thains, because both Peregrin and Faramir are styled 'the first'. It must follow, then, that at the very least they were succeeded by a Peregin II and a Faramir II.

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