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Originated sometime after the foundation of the Shire in III 1601 (year 1 by the Shire-reckoning);1 continued into the Fourth Age
Associated with Michel Delving in the Westfarthing of the Shire
The pronunciation of Michel is uncertain, but is probably something like 'mitchell'; Delving is pronounced as in English
The English title 'Mayor' comes from Latin major, 'greater'; Michel Delving comes from the Old English for 'great delving' or 'great excavation'
Other names
Title of
Will Whitfoot, Samwise Gamgee, and (presumably) other unknown holders of the office


About this entry:

  • Updated 24 July 2021
  • Updates planned: 1

Mayor of Michel Delving

The mayor of the Shire’s chief township

The title held by the leader of Michel Delving, the 'capital' of the Shire. Over time, the power of the Mayor grew to encompass all the lands of the Shire.

(Mayor from at least III 30132 to IV 6 (1413 to 1427 by the Shire-reckoning, at least fourteen years)
The Mayor the Shire during the War of the Ring. At the time Frodo and his companions left the Shire, the famously fat Will was seen as a comical figure. Matters took a darker turn when Lotho Sackville-Baggins took over the Shire: Mayor Whitfoot attempted to protest, but found himself imprisoned in the Lockholes until Sharkey's defeat. While he recovered from this experience, Frodo acted as Deputy Mayor, but in III 3020 Will Whitfoot was ready to resume his duties for another seven years.
(Mayor from IV 6 to IV 55 (1427 to 1476 by the Shire-reckoning, forty-nine years)
Sam was elected Mayor after Will Whitfoot's resignation, and early in his time as Mayor, the holder of the post was appointed as a royal counsellor of the North-kingdom. Sam was re-elected a total of seven times, so that he held the post until the age of ninety-six. No record of his successor exists.3



The office of Mayor is implied to have been well established by the end of the Third Age, but we have very little definitive dating evidence around the role (and indeed very little detail of any kind about the Mayoralty's history). The earliest definite date we have is III 3013 (Shire-reckoning 1413), the most recent date that Will Whitfoot must have been elected as Mayor, but surely the office dated back to a considerably earlier time.

It is implied (though not stated outright) that the title originated as the Mayor of the town of Michel Delving, and was only later expanded to cover the Shire as a whole. That in turn suggests that the position was created rather early in the Shire's history. So, in principle, the Mayoralty might date back to the earliest days of the Shire, or at the very least to a period several centuries before the War of the Ring.


We have no way of knowing when Will Whitfoot's time as Mayor began, but the latest this can have been was in III 3013, the date of the last mayoral election at a Free Fair before the War of the Ring, and thus the last point he could have been elected. As a popular and distinguished old Hobbit, though, it's implied that Old Will had held the position for rather longer than the fourteen years we can definitively establish.


Tolman Cotton (eldest son of Farmer Cotton) had served as Sam's Deputy at one time, so he might be considered a plausible candidate as Sam's successor, if not for the fact that both these Hobbits had been born in the same year (III 2980). At the age of ninety-six, then, Tolman would have been a little past his prime, and it seems more likely that a member of the next generation of Shire-hobbits would have been elected to the Mayoralty.


About this entry:

  • Updated 24 July 2021
  • Updates planned: 1

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