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"The pure-blood families are all interrelated. If you're only going to let your sons and daughters marry pure-bloods your choice is very limited; there are hardly any of us left."
Sirius Black[src]

Slytherin was the surname of a pure-blood wizarding family with several notable members, particularly Salazar Slytherin, one of the four original founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who lived in the 10th century and was the earliest known member of Slytherin house.[1]

Not much is known about this family, but it is possible that they, like their relations, the Gaunts, and several other pure-blood families, had a tendency of marrying their cousins to keep their blood pure and to retain the traits of their ancestors (most notably, the ability to speak Parseltongue).[2] Many dark witches and wizards came from this family, including Salazar Slytherin himself, Voldemort, and their last descendant, Delphini.[3]


Early history

The Slytherin family was a prominent one in the wizarding world, as demonstrated by their famous ancestor, although over time their gene pool became unstable due to a habit of inbreeding. They slowly squandered their wealth, which was completely non-existent by the time their last descendants, the House of Gaunt, came to be.[2]

Recent history

House of Gaunt

By the early twentieth century, when the family was extinct in the male line, Marvolo Gaunt, their last known descendant from the female line, had only two children, Merope and her brother Morfin. While Morfin regularly used magic to terrorise Muggles and spoke almost exclusively in Parseltongue, his sister exhibited no dark qualities and was in fact so traumatised by emotional abuse inflicted upon her by her father and brother, that she was barely able to use magic and often presumed to be a squib.[2]

Merope later ended the pure-blood line of her family by marrying a Muggle from a nearby town, Little Hangleton, and having a half-blood son, Tom Riddle, who later became the infamous Dark Wizard, Voldemort.[2] The female line of the Slytherin family continued for several years, seemingly ending with the death of Riddle.[4] However, twenty two years later, the Ministry of Magic discovered the existence of Delphini, the secret daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, a scion of the House of Black.[3]


Salazar Slytherin

Salazar Slytherin was a great wizard of Medieval times. He was a Parselmouth (a wizard with the rare ability to speak with snakes), and skilled at Legilimency. Salazar was one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he didn't trust Muggle-born students, he expressed his opinion against accepting them at Hogwarts. However, when the other founders didn't agree, Slytherin left the school and did not return.[1] It is unknown when he died. Salazar Slytherin's portrait still remains at Hogwarts.


Isolt Sayre

Isolt Sayre (16031703) was a talented Irish witch and a direct descendant of two skilled ancestors, Salazar Slytherin and famous Irish Animagus Morrigan.[5]

She along with her Muggle husband James Steward and adoptive sons Chadwick and Webster Boot founded Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry the first school of its type in North America. Isolt and her family are credited with the downfall and death of her aunt the Dark Witch Gormlaith Gaunt. She died over the age of a 100 in her beloved Ilvermorny where she and her husband laid to rest. Isolt and James' statues still stands today flanking the front doors of Ilvermorny castle. Her twin daughters Martha and Rionach Steward (Martha being a Squib and Rionach being a supposed Parselmouth) were the last of the Gaunt family's American branch both having no descendants.[5]

Tom Riddle

Tom Riddle (31 December 19262 May 1998), later known as Voldemort, was the most powerful Dark Wizard in the history of the wizarding world.

Tom was born to Merope Gaunt, a pure-blood witch descended from Salazar Slytherin who died shortly after childbirth and Tom Riddle Snr, a wealthy Muggle who was only with Merope due to a love potion and left her when it ran out. Riddle died by the conclusion of the Battle of Hogwarts at age 71. However, prior to this, he sired a daughter, Delphini, with his loyal Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, thus allowing the Slytherin bloodline, along with the Gaunt and Riddle, to survive through her. Delphini was presumably imprisoned in Azkaban.

Other families

The related House of Black

The Slytherin family, like many of the pure-blood families, had some relation to many other families in the wizarding world. The Peverells, Gaunts, Blacks, Malfoys, Potters, Weasleys, Prewetts, and other families are all linked to one another through bloodlines and intermarriage.

The only known direct descendants from Salazar Slytherin were the Gaunts, who for the most part shared their ancestor's beliefs in the purity of wizard blood. They also spoke in Parseltongue between themselves. Tom Marvolo Riddle and his daughter, Delphini, were the last known descendants of the Gaunt family and spoke Parseltongue as well.

The Gaunt family was also descended from the Peverells, although it is unknown if one of the two infamous bloodlines preceded the other or if they simply merged at some prior point.

Slytherin family tree

Peverell family
Slytherin family
Cadmus Peverell
(fl. 1214)
Salazar Slytherin
(fl. 993)
House of Gaunt
Steward family
Gormlaith Gaunt
(d. c. 1634)
Rionach Gaunt
(d. 1608)

(d. 1608)
Martha Steward
(d. c. 1632)
Riddle family
Corvinus Gaunt
(fl. 1700s)
Isolt Sayre
(c. 1603—c.1703)
James Steward
(c. 1603—c.1703)
Thomas Riddle
Mary Riddle
Marvolo Gaunt
(d. late 1920s)
Chadwick Boot
(b. c. 1618)
Webster Boot
(b. c. 1620)
Martha Steward
(b. c. 1634)
Rionach Steward
(b. c. 1634)
Tom Riddle
Merope Gaunt
Morfin Gaunt
Calderon-Boot family
Boot family
House of Black
Tom M. Riddle
Bellatrix Black
Terry Boot
(b. 1979/80)
(b. c. 1998)


The family held onto Salazar Slytherin's possessions for many generations such as his Basilisk horn wand and his locket and in later years Marvolo Gaunt was in possession of a signet ring passed on from his Peverell ancestors. However, the locket left the family when Merope sold it to Borgin and Burkes in order to support herself while she was pregnant. It later came into the possession of Hepzibah Smith, whom a teenage Tom Marvolo Riddle killed and stole the locket from. Riddle eventually turned both artefacts into horcruxes; the locket was stolen from its hiding place by Regulus Black and later destroyed by Ron Weasley, while the ring was destroyed by Albus Dumbledore with Godric Gryffindor's Sword. The ring also contained the Resurrection Stone. Both were eventually destroyed in order to strip Voldemort of his immortality.


Slytherin may refer to the words "sly" as well as "slithering", which is the form of locomotion of snakes, possibly referring to their rare ability to talk to snakes called parseltongue.


Notes and references