- "The Ministry of Magic is undertaking a survey of so-called "Muggle-borns," the better to understand how they came to possess magical secrets. Recent research undertaken by the Department of Mysteries reveals that magic can only be passed from person to person when Wizards reproduce. Where no proven Wizarding ancestry exists, therefore, the so-called Muggle-born is likely to have obtained magical power by theft or force. The Ministry is determined to root out such usurpers of magical power, and to this end has issued an invitation to every so-called Muggle-born to present themselves for interview by the newly appointed Muggle-born Registration Commission"
- —Daily Prophet discussing the Commission[src]
The Muggle-Born Registration Commission was set up by the Ministry of Magic following Lord Voldemort's takeover on 1 August, 1997. The public goal of the Commission was to force all Muggle-born wizards and witches to register with the Ministry, then undergo interrogation as to how they "stole" their magical power from "real" wizards and witches. In truth, the Commission was a deeply prejudicial institution, that focused its resources on degradation and imprisonment of Muggle-borns. Dolores Umbridge was the head of the commission.
- Ron Weasley: "People won't let this happen."
- Remus Lupin: "It is happening, Ron. Muggle-borns are being rounded up as we speak."
- — The commission's actions during the height of the war[src]
The Muggle-Born signup was set up within a month of Lord Voldemort taking over the Ministry of Magic, supposedly because the Department of Mysteries conducted research which found that magic could only be inherited and thus any "so-called Muggle-born" must have obtained magic by thievery. The Commission was then set up, ostensibly, in order to investigate this. This news was reported by the Daily Prophet.
In reality, the Commission was an instrument of discrimination against Muggle-borns in line with Death Eater ideology. Although they claimed to have "issued an invitation" for Muggle-borns to meet with the Commission, the Commission in fact forced Muggle-borns to turn themselves in, sending Snatchers against any who tried to avoid them. Some people pursued by Snatchers, such as Dirk Cresswell and Ted Tonks, did not survive the encounter. Furthermore, their "interviews" were shams, fully intent on sending innocent Muggle-borns to Azkaban, or stripping them of their wands and jobs, leaving them impoverished. Despite Ronald Weasley believing the claims within the news to be too ludicrous for people to accept, let alone permit, the community nevertheless accepted the Commission's foundation and Muggle-borns were arrested.
Furthermore, pure-bloods who have pro-muggle ideals are kept on constant surveillance by the Commission, as they are blood traitors, which the Ministry's new regime considers unacceptable. Arthur Weasley, being both a muggle enthusiast and a member of the Order of the Phoenix, is marked in his file as tracked. Luckily, half-bloods, despite being against the Death Eaters' ideology of purity, are allowed to remain as citizens within the community, as they technically have "legally inherited" magic, though they are treated with less respect due to dilution.
- "Harry felt sickened and angry: At this moment, excited 11-year-olds would be poring over stacks of newly purchased spell-books, unaware that they would never see Hogwarts, perhaps never see their families again either."
- —Harry Potter's reaction to hearing what would happen to Muggle-born children[src]
The Commission had Muggle-borns who registered fill out questionnaires about their family history and then wait for their trial behind bars in the Ministry of Magic. While awaiting trial, they were guarded by Dementors and threatened with the Dementor's Kiss if they resisted. Trials were held by Commission head Dolores Umbridge, who was assisted by Death Eater and head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Yaxley at times. Travers, another Death Eater, may also have been involved, as Umbridge once mentioned him sending someone to record-keep for her. Those who could not prove that they had magical heritage — in other words, any Muggle-born and potentially some half-bloods — were sentenced to Azkaban for having "stolen" magic. Some, however, were apparently released after being stripped of their wands and their jobs, and ended up homeless.
This led some Muggle-borns to fake their family trees, such as Dirk Cresswell; others to refuse to register and go on the run, such as Ted Tonks. These individuals were pursued by Snatchers, sometimes fatally. Their deaths were not reported by news outlets such as the Daily Prophet, only by the rebellious radio programme Potterwatch.
Also, attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry became mandatory for the first time. Part of the reason for this was to weed out Muggle-borns, as all students were required to prove blood status. Thus, children who could not prove that they had magical ancestry — such as Dean Thomas, whose mother was a Muggle and whose father was a wizard, but had left when Dean was younger, making it impossible to prove — were rounded up as well, or forced to go on the run. This held true even for Muggle-borns who were invited (or rather, forced) to attend first year at Hogwarts, only to be taken away for imprisonment.
The Commission also seemed to distribute propaganda against Muggle-borns, such as a pamphlet entitled "Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society".
Infiltration of the Ministry
- Dolores Umbridge: "Could you please tell us from which witch or wizard you took that wand?"
- Mrs Cattermole: "T-took? I didn't t-take it from anybody. I bought it when I was eleven years old. It — it — it — chose me."
- Dolores Umbridge: "No, no, I don't think so, Mrs Cattermole. Wands only choose witches or wizards. You are not a witch."
- — Umbridge interrogating Mary Cattermole[src]
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger encountered the Commission when they, along with Ron Weasley, entered the Ministry of Magic in 1997 to take Salazar Slytherin's locket from Dolores Umbridge. Before they could decide what to do, Hermione, disguised as Mafalda Hopkirk with Polyjuice Potion, was sent down to the courtrooms with Umbrige to witness the trial of Mary Cattermole and Ron, disguised as Reginald Cattermole, was forced to stop it raining in Yaxley's office. Harry, disguised as Albert Runcorn, went to level one of the Ministry to search Umbridge's office for the Horcrux locket, and found himself faced in an open area where employees are assembling anti-"Mudblood" pamphlets. Harry spots Moody's magical eye affixed to the door of Umbridge's office and to create a diversion, sets a Decoy Detonator.
During the confusion, Harry entered Umbridge's office. He found it decorated exactly like her Hogwarts office, with the horribly cute kitten plates on the wall and the lace doilies on the desks. Also everything in the office was in various shaded of pink. Looking through the small telescope on the door, he sees everyone is gathered around the Decoy Detonator's remains. He then removed Moody's eye and pockets it, then tries unsuccessfully to summon the Locket. Harry finds a file on Arthur Weasley, who is noted as a pure-blood likely to be contacted by "Undesirable Number 1", Harry himself. Mr Weasley is also being Tracked. Harry deems it unlikely the Locket is here and Harry exits unseen, returning to the lift. He must now find Ron and collect Hermione from the courtroom.
Covered with the Invisibility Cloak, Harry heads for the courtrooms to extract Hermione while Ron is busy with Yaxley's office. Harry recognises an unnatural chill: Dementors are guarding Muggle-born witches and wizards waiting to be interrogated. Mary Cattermole is called and Harry follows her into the courtroom. Inside, two Dementors are kept at bay by a cat Patronus and Umbridge, Hermione (as Mafalda), and Yaxley, are interrogating Cattermole, demanding to know whose wand she stole. Seeing the Locket around Umbridge's neck, Hermione compliments her about it: Umbridge claims the S initial is for Selwyn, an old pure-blood Wizarding family she is honoured to be related to. This lie proves too much for Harry, who furiously stunned Umbridge, as well as, before the Death Eater could react, Yaxley.
With Umbridge's Patronus no longer holding the Dementors at bay, Harry quickly casts his own just in time to save Mary from receiving the Dementor's Kiss. Harry releases the chains binding Mary, while Hermione creates a duplicate Locket to replace the real one. Escorted by Harry and Hermione's Patronuses, the three exit the courtrooms. Gathering the other Muggle-borns, Harry says the new official position is to disguise themselves and leave the country or at least avoid the Ministry. Meeting Ron at the lifts, Mary Cattermole hugs him, believing he is her husband, Reg. Ron warns them that the Ministry knows they are there and is closing off the fireplaces: they must hurry to escape. At the Atrium, Harry sends the Muggle-borns through the remaining open fireplaces.
Amidst the confusion, Yaxley appears, ordering workers to seal all fireplaces. As Ron escapes with Mary Cattermole, Yaxley fires a curse at Harry as he exits with Hermione. Back in the lavatory, Yaxley appears in the cubicle behind Harry. Grabbing Hermione and Ron, Harry Disapparates. He briefly sees Grimmauld Place's front door, then hears a bang and they are soon Apparating away. Having broken the Fidelius Charm by bringing Yaxley within the limits of the spell while disapparating, the trio had to abandon the house as Hermione Apparated them elsewhere.
The Muggle-Born Registration Commission was disbanded after Voldemort's defeat when Kingsley Shacklebolt became Minister for Magic in 1998. Umbridge was sentenced to Azkaban herself for her crimes against Muggle-borns as head of the Commission, as some of her victims who were incarcerated in Azkaban did not survive in the devilish prison. Yaxley was also arrested or killed during the Battle of Hogwarts. It is unknown what happened to the other members of the department.
Once inside the Ministry, the trio sees how extensively Voldemort's corruption and perversion has spread, and the extreme measures being implemented to separate the "racially impure" from "pure-blooded" wizard society. Anyone not directly serving Lord Voldemort is controlled through his minions, mostly with threats and violence. It appears there is little resistance and as Voldemort gains more power, many wizards fear for themselves or their loved ones who could be branded as "undesirables" and be incarcerated.
There are still many in the general wizarding population who are simply ignorant about what is happening, while others are fearful and/or uncertain what to believe or who to trust. Voldemort deliberately created this confusion by quietly and insidiously seizing control of the Ministry and other key institutions while spreading anti-Muggle propaganda. He remains unseen — though his return has now been public knowledge for a year: by staying concealed he allows rumour to do his work, spreading fear and doubt, while never providing the public a specific target to rally against.
Meanwhile, the thoroughly corrupt and reprehensible Dolores Umbridge revels in her position as Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. Bloated with power, she has dedicated herself to purging "impurities" from the wizarding world, much as she did while at Hogwarts, and readily abuses her authority to persecute those deemed unworthy. From what can be seen at the hearing Umbridge is presiding over, it appears that all Muggle-borns are being rounded up, probably to be sent to Azkaban, deported, or exterminated. "Blood traitors," shielded to some extent by their blood status, are nonetheless being watched more closely as well.
|Alderton||Sentenced to Azkaban for "stealing magic"|
|Mary Cattermole||Subjected to a biased trial, escaped due to Harry Potter|
|Dirk Cresswell||Forced to forge his family tree and go on the run when this was discovered: eventually killed by Snatchers|
|Dean Thomas||Forced to go on the run: eventually captured and briefly imprisoned in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor|
|Ted Tonks||Forced to go on the run: eventually killed by Snatchers|
|Various others||Various people reduced to being beggars on the streets|
|Substantial number of inmates in Azkaban.|
|Hermione Granger||Highly wanted, due to her Muggle-born status and evading registry with the Commission, but primarily because she was on the run with Harry Potter destroying Horcruxes. Fenrir Greyback discovered her identity when she, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter were caught by a gang of Snatchers despite her lie of being Penelope Clearwater and narrowly escaped being taken to the Ministry when Greyback found out who Harry Potter was and took them to Malfoy Manor resulting in the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor and Hermione's torture.|
Behind the scenes
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, apart from just Arthur Weasley's file, Dolores Umbridge, as Head of the Commission, maintained another number of files on those of concern to the commission, including Albus Dumbledore's file, Alastor Moody's file, Sirius Black's file and Hermione Granger's file.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- From Chapter 11 (The Bribe) of Deathly Hallows: "[...]by the newly appointed Muggle-born Registration Commission", printed on 1 September ("at this moment excited eleven-year-olds would be poring over newly purchased spellbooks, unaware that they would never see Hogwarts, perhaps never see their families again, either."
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
- Deathly Hallows, Ch. 22
- Deathly Hallows, Ch. 13
- Deathly Hallows, Ch. 26
- Deathly Hallows, Ch. 15
- 30 July 2007 Leaky Cauldron Web Chat with J.K. Rowling