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Lily Evans: "Doesn’t your dad like magic?"
Severus Snape: "He doesn’t like anything, much."
Severus discusses his father with Lily Evans.[src]

Tobias Snape was a British Muggle[1] and the patriarch of the Snape family in the late twentieth century.[3] He was the husband of the witch Eileen Snape (nèe Prince) and the father of Severus Snape[3].


Early life

Tobias was born sometime in the early twentieth century, into the Muggle Snape family.[2]


He married the pure-blood witch Eileen Prince[2]. He abused her mentally and emotionally, as Harry Potter saw in Severus Snape's memories during an Occlumency lesson.[4] It could be surmised that he was physically abusive as well. Why they began a relationship and got married is currently unknown. Eileen may not have told him about the wizard world before their wedding.

It is possible that the marriage caused Eileen to be disowned by the Prince family, similar to Andromeda Tonks née Black, who was disowned by her parents and sisters after she married a Muggle-born man, and Merope Riddle née Gaunt, who was disowned by her father and brother after she mentally enslaved a Muggle squire into marrying her.

The couple lived at Spinner's End, a working-class neighbourhood in Cokeworth, England.[3]

Tobias' son, Severus

On 9 January, 1960, Eileen gave birth to their son.[3] Severus noted during a conversation with his friend, Lily Evans, that his parents fought often.[3] They apparently neglected him during his childhood, or were poor, or both. His clothes were mismatched and did not fit properly. When he began his first year of school at Hogwarts, he changed into his uniform quickly after getting onto the Hogwarts Express, apparently glad to be rid of his Muggle clothes.

By September 1981, when Severus became the Potions master and a Head of House at the school, Tobias and Eileen no longer resided in the house. As Severus was only twenty-one years old, it is likely that they were still alive but moved away, either together or separately.

Personality and traits

According to young Severus, Tobias was not fond of very much of anything, including magic.[3] Even so, his son was a talented young wizard before even receiving the Hogwarts letter. In 1995, Sirius Black mentioned that Severus knew more curses when he arrived at school than many of the seventh-year students did. Tobias might not have tried to ban magic from the home, or Eileen and Severus might have used it whenever he was not around.



Tobias had a very poor relationship with both his wife and his son. When Severus was younger, Tobias frequently shouted at Eileen, and possibly hit her, whilst their son crouched in a corner, crying.[4] The unhappy memories of the Snape home would haunt Severus into adulthood.


Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Tobiah from the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, meaning "God is good" - which is a big irony, given Tobias's nasty demeanour towards everything in life. In the apocryphal Book of Tobit in the Old Testament, Tobias is assisted by the archangel in driving a demon away from Sarah, who subsequently became his wife.[5]

J. K. Rowling has stated that "Snape" is the name of a place in England[6]. It also is an English verb meaning "to be hard upon, rebuke or snub", derived from the Old Norse "sneypa", meaning "to outrage, dishonour, disgrace".[7]

Behind the scenes

  • His treatment towards his son and wife caused the former to despise Muggles in general, given his contempt towards Petunia. He also may not have had stable employment.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb) - "Tobias Snape was a Muggle from what it said in the Prophet.”"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
  5. Behind the Name: Tobias
  6. 2000 eToys Interview - AccioQuote!
  7. "Snape" at Dictionary.com