Hobbit Genealogy

September 08, 2012

Today I'd like to introduce you to the first guest bloggers for my Tolkien blog celebration! Have you ever been really confused by all the genealogy that Hobbits love so much? Read on for an awesome explanation! -Shaylynn

 Megan and Laura are homeschooled sisters, ages 14 and 15 respectively. (Yes, the younger one is taller.) They first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy three years ago, and were instantly hooked. Laura enjoys learning obscure crafts (such as bobbin lace, weaving, and spinning yarn) and researching things. Megan likes to play her violin, sing, and make up stories. They both love dressing up in costumes to go to movies or things such as their local Renaissance Fair; reading; playing the piano; and acting.

If you’ve ever paged through the back of a book by Tolkien, you’ve probably noticed the detailed family trees. Lots of names and dates, connected by lines which branch off into even more names! It seems awfully confusing to us modern humans, but most of the characters seem to be familiar with their family connections. Even Pippin, that fool of a Took, seems to know what he’s talking about in the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring!

Since the family trees in Appendix C of The Return of the King are devoted to hobbits, that’s what we’ll be looking at today. Who should we start with? How about Frodo and Bilbo?
As most of us know, “Uncle” Bilbo adopted Frodo as a young boy. We also know they’re related in some way, but how? Let’s look at the Baggins Family Tree to get started.

If we go way back in time, Bilbo and Frodo share a common ancestor: Balbo Baggins. Balbo had five kids, but we’re only going to concentrate on two at the moment: Mungo and Largo.  Both of these Hobbits got married and started families. Mungo had five kids (just like his parents), and Largo had one son. Mungo’s oldest son was Bungo, who had a child named Bilbo. Largo’s son, Fosco, had three kids, and his second child was Frodo’s father, Drogo.

So what do we call Bilbo and Frodo’s relationship?

Well, most of us know what a first cousin is. That would be our uncle/aunt’s child. Thus, Bilbo’s father Bungo and Frodo’s grandfather Fosco are first cousins, because their fathers were brothers. (Simple enough, right?) Now what’s a second cousin? A second cousin would be your parent’s cousin’s child. This makes Bilbo and Drogo second cousins because their parents are cousins.

So how does Frodo fit into this?

If you look carefully at the family tree, you will notice that Bilbo and Drogo are on the same generation level. That means if you go back the same number of generations from either descendant you will reach their common ancestor. Go back three generations from both Bilbo and Drogo, and you reach Balbo Baggins. If you go back three generations from Frodo, you reach Largo. That’s not the same ancestor Bilbo reached, so that means that Frodo is not on the same generation level as Bilbo.

To be a first, second, third etc. cousin, you have to be on the same generation level. So what do you call relatives who are on different generation levels?

This is where it can get pretty complicated! If your extended relative is one generation above or below you, they are once removed. For example, a first cousin once removed is your parent’s cousin, or your cousin’s child. And a first cousin twice removed is either your grandparent’s cousin or your cousin’s grandchild. A second cousin once removed is your parent’s second cousin, or your second cousin’s child. (See why this gets confusing?)

Now Frodo’s dad, Drogo, is Bilbo’s second cousin. This would make Frodo and Bilbo second cousins once removed.

Wow! Pretty complicated, huh? Now that we’re familiar with the terms, it should start to get easier. How about trying to figure out how Frodo and Peregrin Took are related?

This time we get a little help. Remember, in The Fellowship of the Ring movie when the four Hobbits are at the Prancing Pony, Pip says, “Sure, I know a Baggins. He’s over there. Frodo Baggins. He’s my second cousin, once removed on his mother’s side and my third cousin twice removed on his father’s side, if you follow me.”

There, Pippin has given us a little starter. We can still check to make sure he got his facts right, though! :) Let’s start with the relation on Frodo’s mother’s side.

Frodo and Pippin’s common ancestor is Gerontius, The Old Took. Gerontius and his wife had twelve children. (Wait, twelve!?!? Wow!) We’ll only have to work with two, though!

Hildigrim, a son of The Old Took, is Pippin’s great-grandfather. One of The Old Took’s daughters, Mirabella, is Frodo’s grandmother. If Hildigrim and Mirabella are siblings, then their children would be… that’s right, first cousins! So Hildigrim’s son Adalgrim and Mirabella’s daughter Primula are first cousins. And their children would be… yes, second cousins! Paladin II and Frodo are second cousins. Wait a second… Paladin II is Pippin’s dad. Hmm, this means that Frodo and Pippin are on different generation levels.

Pippin and Frodo are second-cousins once removed, because Pip is Frodo’s second-cousin’s child. So Pippin got his facts right for the first half of his quote! “He’s my second cousin, once removed on his mother’s side.”

Oddly enough, Pippin is also related to Frodo through Frodo’s father’s side! Pippin says “He’s my third cousin twice removed on his father’s side.” Let’s see if he’s right!

Now Frodo and Pip’s common ancestor is Balbo Baggins! We’ll focus on his two younger sons, Ponto and Largo.

As we know, Frodo is the great-grandson of Largo. It turns out Pippin is the great-great-grandson of Ponto! (Notice the difference in generation levels…)

Let’s think about this. If Ponto and Largo were brothers that would mean that their children were cousins. So Ponto’s daughter Rosa (Pip’s great-grandmother), and Largo’s son Fosco (Frodo’s grandfather) are first-cousins. That makes their children second cousins (Adalgrim {Pip’s grandfather}, and Drogo {Frodo’s father}), and their children third cousins!

So Frodo and Paladin II are third cousins. We know that Paladin II is Pippin’s father, so Pippin must be on a different generation level from Frodo again.  What would be the relationship of Frodo and Pip…. Yes, third cousin once removed, because Pip is Frodo’s third cousin’s child.

What did Pip say in the movie? “He’s my third cousin twice removed on his father’s side.” Twice? We got third cousin once removed. Either Pippin is wrong, or we are.  Personally, I think Pippin was a little forgetful right then… but you can always check it out more yourself! :)

Now it’s time to move onto how Frodo and Meriadoc Brandybuck are related. What is very helpful is that Merry and Pippin are first cousins. They should have the same relation to Frodo, but let’s check it out.

Meriadoc’s grandfather Adalgrim and Frodo’s mother Primula are first cousins. Therefore, Merry’s mom (Esmeralda) and Frodo are second cousins. This would make Merry and Frodo…. That’s right, second cousins once removed because Merry is Frodo’s second cousin’s child.

That turned out the same as Pippin’s relationship to Frodo through Frodo’s mom.  Yes, Merry is also related to Frodo through Frodo’s dad, so we’ll have to check that out too.

Frodo’s grandfather Fosco and Merry’s great-grandmother Rosa are first cousins. That makes Frodo’s dad, Drogo, and Merry’s grandfather Adalgrim second cousins. So Frodo and Merry’s mom would be third cousins… and Frodo and Merry would be third cousins once removed (because Merry is Frodo’s third cousin’s child).

That also turned out to be the same as what we came up with for Pippin through Frodo’s dad. This gives us another reason to think Pippin got his facts wrong in the movie.

We’ve figured out how Frodo is related to the main Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings, except for how he is related to Samwise Gamgee. Search as we might through the Hobbit family trees, there is no common ancestor recorded between Frodo and Sam. Sam is not related to Frodo, Pippin, Merry, or even Bilbo. Sadly, this is because the Gamgees were not considered an ‘upper-class’ family, and thus they didn’t intermarry into Bagginses, Brandybucks, Tooks, etc.

There we shall stop with the family trees. There are many more interesting relationships between Tolkien’s characters, but alas, we are running out of time and room. If this has sparked your interest in the genealogies of Middle Earth, you can try to figure some out for yourself! We haven’t even touched on the subject of how Elrond is a second cousin twice removed to his mother-in-law…

The End

All images belong to Megan and Laura.

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  1. Wow, that was super interesting! I never could quite figure out those tricksy hobbit relationships. It's much clearer now. :)

  2. This is really interesting...but I just wanted to point out that in the end Sam does become a bit related to Frodo when his daughter Goldilocks marries Pippins son Faramir...which makes Sam somehow related to Frodo! (:


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