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Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black) a well known example of a Pure-Blood supremacist and another example of the unstable side effects of severe intermarriage between close relatives

The Sacred Twenty-Eight were, according to the author of the Pure-Blood Directory (widely believed to have been Cantankerus Nott), the twenty-eight British families that were still "truly pure-blood" by the 1930s.[1]

The Sacred Twenty-Eight comprised the families of:

Notes about the Sacred Twenty-Eight

Interestingly, the Ollivander family is considered one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, despite Garrick Ollivander's mother being Muggle-born prior to the book's publication. It is possible, however, that the Directory's author was unaware of or overlooked this for other reasons.

The Potter family was excluded from the list because it was also a common Muggle surname, and that Henry Potter also took an outspoken pro-Muggle view during his time in the Wizengamot.[2] This was despite Dorea Black marrying Charlus Potter, and not being disowned, which would almost certainly indicate that the family had no known Muggle ancestors or relatives. Also, James Potter was a pure-blood.[3] One possible theory indicates that the author of the Directory considered the Potters and other "pure-blood" families (such as the Princes, the Crabbes, or the Goyles) to have some amount of Muggle ancestry.

Some families (most famously the Weasley family) spoke out against the list in spite of their inclusion, declaring that they certainly had muggle ancestry and were not ashamed of it. The families who were proud of being included or who wished they had been labelled them "blood traitors" in retaliation.

Although the Malfoys were noted as respectable members as one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight (a title they are proud of), they did not take the pure-blood supremacy to the point of inbreeding: they were willing to marry half-bloods, many of whom are shown in their family tree. As they had no Muggles or Muggle-borns in their family tree, they were still a pure-blood family, just not as fanatic as the Blacks, Gaunts, and Lestranges, whose members do not marry half-bloods, Muggles, or Muggle-borns.[4]

Current status of the Sacred Twenty-Eight

The Crouch and the Gaunt families were extinct, the first definitively, the latter in direct line. Bartemius Crouch Jnr killed his own father and was later Kissed by a Dementor; according to Albus Dumbledore, he was the last member of the family. Tom Riddle Jnr killed Morfin Gaunt, the last surviving male member of the family, who did not have children; Riddle had an illegitimate daughter, Delphini, who is currently in Azkaban.[5] So is the House of Black, which extinguished in 1996 due to the death of his last male member, Sirius Black. Andromeda Tonks, née Black, however, married a Muggle-born wizard, Edward Tonks, so they did not match up the policy of the Directory anymore. In any case, the House continued through several indirect lines, namely Scorpius Malfoy (grandson of Narcissa Malfoy, née Black), Edward Lupin, grandson of Andromeda Tonks, and Delphini Riddle, illigitimate daughter of Bellatrix Lestrange, née Black.

The Lestranges were probably extinct in male line, as neither Rabastan nor Rodolphus Lestrange, the last known members, had children.[6]

The Malfoy family continued in Scorpius Malfoy, only son of Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass, which means that both families had been secured of an heir, although, in Greengrass's case, indirect. Scorpius Malfoy also indirectly continued the House of Black, his paternal grandmother being Narcissa Malfoy.

The Weasleys continued their tradition of being singularly prolific: with the only exception of Charlie and Fred Weasley (the latter died during the Battle of Hogwarts), all the children of Arthur and Molly Weasley got married and had children of their own. They however broke the rules of the Pure-blood Directory when Ronald Weasley married Hermione Granger, a Muggle-born.[7]

Neville Longbottom married Hannah Abbott, another member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, but as of 2014, they did not have children. However, Abbott once stated that she was half-blood, meaning that one of her ancestors married a Muggle and thus the family was excluded from the Directory. Therefore, any offspring both Neville and Hannah had would no longer be pure-blood.

Behind the scenes

  • Sirius Black stated that all pure-blood families are interrelated, largely due to the reluctance of some pure-bloods to interbreed with Muggles and half-bloods, resorting to arranged marriages with other pure-blood families; as well as certain harmful practices such as incest and inbreeding, which sometimes stemmed from the previous point. It is therefore very likely that all the families listed in the Sacred Twenty-Eight are related to each other.
  • It is noted that many of the families listed are strongly linked to Slytherin House, being the house into which the members of many of these families are traditionally sorted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Among the most emblematic examples are the Malfoys, the Blacks (with the exception of Sirius Black), the Lestranges and the Gaunts, the latter in fact descended from Salazar Slytherin. This could be largely due to the supremacist ideals of Salazar, who highly valued and favoured pure-blood students, something that would end up having a considerable influence on the choice of prospective students for that house. There are, however, exceptions, such as the Longbottoms, the Prewetts and the Weasleys, linked to Gryffindor House; the Abbotts, the Fawleys and the Macmillans, traditionally associated with Hufflepuff House, and the Ollivanders, who have at least one prominent member of Ravenclaw House.
  • Many of the families on the list were linked to prominent Dark Wizards and Witches, even supporting them, and practised the Dark Arts. Vinda Rosier, a member of the Rosier family, for example, served as a fervent acolyte of the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the late 1920s, as well as a member of the Carrow family. Similarly, though years later, some families, such as the Malfoys, the Blacks and the Lestranges supported the cause of the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort (coincidentally descended from one of the families on the list), joining the ranks of his followers, the Death Eaters, during the First and Second Wizarding Wars.
    • However, there were some notable exceptions. For example, Sirius Black, the disowned heir to the Black family, and his cousin Andromeda opposed the Death Eater's goals and became fierce allies of Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix, and Sirius's brother Regulus died deserting the ranks of the Death Eaters in order to protect the life of Kreacher, his house elf. Other families on the list such as the Longbottoms, the Prewetts and the Weasleys also supported Dumbledore's cause and joined the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Some families on the list have origins outside the British Isles. The Malfoys, Lestranges and Rosiers, for example, have roots in France, with the Malfoy family arriving in Britain during the Norman invasions led by William the Conqueror. The Shafiq family, given the origin of their name, may come from somewhere in the Middle East, and the Shacklebolt family has apparent Nigerian roots. It is likely that this was intended to reflect the multiculturalism of British society over the years.
  • One of the reasons the Potters were excluded from the list, in addition to Henry Potter's "pro-Muggle views", was because the family name was a very common surname among Muggles, which could be an indication that the family had non-magical roots, although this turned out to be wrong in the end, at least until the birth of Harry Potter, a half-blood wizard, into the family. However, some surnames on the list, such as Avery, Flint, Macmillan, Nott, Parkinson, Travers and Weasley, are more common and more prevalent among Muggles than the surname Potter. This is most likely due to the biases of the directory's author.
    • Other pure-blood families, such as the Crabbes, the Goyles, the Browns, the Rosses and the Princes also lacked non-magical ancestry like the Potters at the time the directory was drawn up, but unlike the aforementioned families, and like the Potters, they were excluded from the list, given the familiarity of their names among Muggles.


Notes and references

  1. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Pure-Blood" at Wizarding World
  2. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
  3. In any case, James Potter married a Muggle-born witch.
  4. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Malfoy Family" at Wizarding World
  5. Strictly according to the Pure-blood Directory's policies, the Gaunts should have been excluded from the Sacred Twenty-Eight as Merope Gaunt married Tom Riddle Snr, a Muggle. The fact that the directory was written during the 1930s and the Gaunts were included, even if Merope did already marry Tom Riddle at that time, proves that the author did not know that. In any case, Merope died giving birth to her son on 31 December 1926, Marvolo Gaunt died soon after his release from Azkaban (around 1926) and Morfin Gaunt was sent by his own nephew to Azkaban, where he died sometimes after 1943, extinguishing the direct family line.
  6. It is unknown if Rabastan Lestrange even got married.
  7. Possibly even before, when Bill Weasley married Fleur Delacour, who was part-Veela. The Directory's policy about half-humans is unclear. Bellatrix Lestrange once described Remus Lupin, a Werewolf, as a "beast", but this has little value, given the common repulsion for Werewolves among the wizarding community. Also, the Blacks were known for their extremely strict policy about blood purity.