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"Within a few months of their runaway marriage, Tom Riddle reappeared at the manor house in Little Hangleton without his wife. The rumour flew around the neighbour­hood that he was talking of being 'hoodwinked' and 'taken in'... He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son."
— The circumstances of Tom Riddle Senior's marriage[src]

Tom Riddle Senior (1905August 1943) was an affluent English Muggle who lived in the village of Little Hangleton in England. He was the son of wealthy Muggles Thomas and Mary Riddle, who raised him to be snobbish and rude.

Tom was magically coerced into marrying Merope Gaunt, most likely by means of a Love potion, although the Imperius Curse is another possibility. If it was the former, it was theorised that Merope stopped giving him the potion after some time because she thought that he would start loving her naturally, at least for their unborn baby. But the desired did not happen. He left her once she stopped bewitching him, sometime before the birth of their son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, who would grow to become the Dark wizard Lord Voldemort. Tom Riddle Senior was very handsome and this was what attracted Merope Gaunt.[6]

The latter's sixteen-year-old son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, later murdered him and his grandparents in cold blood. This was in retaliation for what Tom Marvolo Riddle saw as his father's abandonment of his family. While neither his death nor that of his parents was notable among Muggles, as few Little Hangleton residents grieved, it would be pivotal in Wizarding history. His murder was used to make his father-in-law's ring into a Horcrux. In 1995, his last remaining bone helped his son return to full power.


Early life[]

"She likes looking at that Muggle. Always in the garden when he passes, peering through the hedge at him, isn't she? And last night — hanging out of the window waiting for him to ride home, wasn't she?... I got him as he went by and he didn't look so pretty with hives all over him, did he, Merope?"
— Merope's obsessive infatuation with Tom Riddle[src]

Born to Thomas and Mary Riddle in 1905,[1] Tom Riddle Senior lived in a luxurious manor house not far from a run-down cottage that was home to the Gaunts, a wizarding family descended from Salazar Slytherin and Cadmus Peverell, outside the Muggle village of Little Hangleton. Merope Gaunt, who led a miserable life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father and brother, became infatuated with Tom, watching him ride by on his horse, sometimes in the company of a woman named Cecilia.

Tom, on the other hand, looked on with disdain on her brother for his mental instability and her father for his reputation of being arrogant and violently antisocial towards the Little Hangleton people.[6] However, Tom himself was rather snobbish and rude due to his upbringing, and along with his parents, the Riddle family was most disliked by the townspeople.[7]

When her brother Morfin noticed her interest, he hexed Tom with hives. The Ministry of Magic discovered this, among other incidents, and also arrested Morfin and Marvolo Gaunt for attacking Ministry officials. Both wizards were sentenced to Azkaban. While they were gone, Merope and Tom got married.[6]

Forced marriage[]

Albus Dumbledore: "Can you not think of any measure Merope could have taken to make Tom Riddle forget his Muggle companion, and fall in love with her instead?"
Harry Potter: "The Imperius Curse? Or a love potion?"
Albus Dumbledore: "Very good. Personally, I am inclined to think that she used a love potion. I am sure it would have seemed more romantic to her, and I do not think it would have been very difficult, some hot day, when Riddle was riding alone, to persuade him to take a drink of water."
— Tom and Merope's forced marriage[src]
Gaunt riddle

Merope staring longingly at Tom Riddle

It was speculated by Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter that Merope used the Imperius Curse on Tom, but they decided that it was more likely she used a Love potion to attract him. A Love potion would have been much more romantic in her eyes than the Imperius Curse. In any case, the two married, despite public disapproval over 'the squire's son running off with the tramp's daughter.' At some point in their relationship, Merope became pregnant with a boy.[6]

It was believed that Merope eventually stopped whatever enchantment she had used on Tom in the hopes that he had truly fallen in love with her since, or would at least remain with her for the sake of their unborn child.[6] She was wrong on both accounts, as he had reacted quite badly when the enchantment was lifted and discovered the truth as well.[6]

Return to Little Hangleton[]

"Tom Riddle left her while she was still pregnant... I believe that Merope, who was deeply in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving him by magical means. I believe that she made the choice to stop giving him the potion."
— The tragic end of Tom and Merope's manipulated relationship[src]

Once Merope's enchantment was removed, Riddle came to his senses and no longer wanted anything to do with her, and thus fled back to his parents' house in Little Hangleton, and never bothered to find out even about his unborn child, let alone Merope.[6] He claimed to have been 'taken in' by Merope, which may have been an allusion to her being a witch.[6] He did not state specifically that she used magic to seduce him, for the fear of being thought insane. Rumours in the town claimed that Merope had lied about being pregnant in order to induce Riddle to marry her.[6] Riddle's son himself came to believe that his father abandoned Merope solely because he discovered she was a witch.[8]

After Riddle left, Merope was left impoverished, despondent, and alone in London. Soon after, she gave birth to a son she named Tom Marvolo Riddle, after the baby's father and Merope's own father, Marvolo Gaunt. Merope died shortly after giving birth rather than live for the baby and the child was left in the care of a Muggle orphanage.[9]

Over the next ensuing decade, Riddle Senior never bothered with or even attempted to find out what had become of Merope, or his son.[6]


"Meanwhile, in the village of Little Hangleton, a maid was running along the High Street, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house: Tom Riddle Senior and his mother and father."
— A maid finds the bodies of the Riddle family[src]

In 1943,[1] sixteen-year-old Tom Marvolo Riddle, who would later take on the alias Lord Voldemort, ventured to Little Hangleton to investigate his heritage. He learned the details of his parents' union from his uncle Morfin Gaunt and sought revenge on whom he saw as the man who abandoned him before his birth. Tom Marvolo Riddle murdered his father and paternal grandparents with the Killing Curse and framed Morfin for the crime.[10] His corpse was described as having a 'look of terror upon his face'.[7]


"You stand, Harry Potter, upon the remains of my late father. A Muggle and a fool... very like your dear mother. But they both had their uses, did they not? Your mother died to defend you as a child... and I killed my father, and see how useful he has proved himself in death..."
Lord Voldemort regarding the murder of his father[src]
Little Hangleton graveyard GOF 2

Little Hangleton graveyard, where Tom Senior was laid to rest

Tom Riddle Senior was buried in a Little Hangleton graveyard along with his parents, and their deaths were not at all mourned by the townspeople due to being very unpopular.[7] Tom's murder was used by his son to transform Marvolo Gaunt's Ring into his second Horcrux.[11] Voldemort seemed to see this murder as retribution for the miserable existence his father had condemned him to in his abandonment, as well as his own triumph over his 'filthy Muggle' heritage.[8]

Bones from the father

Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son

Voldemort made use of his father's murder again in 1995 when Peter Pettigrew used a bone from Tom Riddle Senior's grave to make the potion that resurrected him.[12] Although hating his father, Voldemort did tell his servant Barty Crouch Junior about this hated heritage; Barty, who also had a disappointing father that he was named after, saw this as a common that binds him and the Dark Lord together, fueling his loyalty.[13]

Although unpopular and not mourned, the townspeople of Little Hangleton were more concerned about how Tom died, fearing the possibility such a murder could happen again. They were particularly concerned that Riddle and his parents seemingly dropped dead for no reason, a highly improbable scenario. Frank Bryce, the Riddle family's gardener, was arrested because he was suspected for being the only one to have a key to the house but was released due to lack of evidence on the Riddles' otherwise healthy corpses.[7] To this day, the Muggle authority have no idea how Tom and his parents died.[10]

Morfin Gaunt, having been brainwashed by his nephew into thinking he was the killer, was proud of his own supposed action of finally murdering Riddle Senior, and allowed himself to be incarcerated into Azkaban without resistance.[10]

Tom's death would ultimately be avenged when Harry Potter defeated Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts. However, Voldemort sired a daughter, Delphini, with his subordinate, Bellatrix Lestrange, prior to both their deaths at the aforementioned battle, thus posthumously giving Tom Riddle Senior a granddaughter.

Physical description[]

Tom Riddle Senior was a very handsome dark-haired man.[4] His son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, was noted to be the spitting image of him in his early years, which suggests that the older Tom was also tall, pale, and dark-eyed.[5]

Personality and traits[]

Cecilia: "My God, what an eyesore! Couldn't your father have that hovel cleared away, Tom?"
Tom Riddle Senior: "It's not ours. Everything on the other side of the valley belongs to us, but that cottage belongs to an old tramp called Gaunt, and his children. The son's quite mad, you should hear some of the stories they tell in the village... Good lord, you're right! That'll be the son, I told you he's not right in the head. Don't look at it, Cecilia, darling."
— Tom's snobbish and rude personality, a byproduct of his upbringing[src]

Owing to his privileged upbringing, Tom Riddle Senior was something of a snob, and could also be callous, rude and arrogant.[6] When he and Cecilia were riding by the Gaunt Shack on one occasion, Bob Ogden ran out, having been terrorised by the Gaunts, and stumbled into Riddle's horse. Both Riddle and Cecilia 'roared with laughter' at Ogden's bumbling and his ridiculous manner of dress.[6]

Very handsome and wealthy, Riddle boasted to his companion about how much property his family owned. Riddle showed disgust at Morfin's violent behaviour, reacting with revulsion to seeing a dead snake nailed to the Gaunt shack's door, and urged Cecilia not to look at it.

He was shown to be snobbish, describing Morfin Gaunt and his father as 'tramps' for their insanity and actions towards others (which was true). However, he was less hostile to them. Considering Tom's social status and the time period, he was actually rather polite in that statement, especially when considering the Gaunts were social pariahs among Muggles.

Being coerced by Merope into a relationship, upon the enchantments being alleviated, he fled her without a second thought, wanting nothing more to do with her, thus he callously never bothered to find out what happened to the child that she forced him to conceive with her. He was sensible enough to know not to tell other people that Merope used magic to ensnare him, fearing of being thought insane, and instead used more ambiguous term of "being taken in", to let people come up with their own conclusions.[6]

By the 1940s, Tom was described as being ruder and more snobbish than his parents, who were both very snobbish as it was. This made Tom immensely unpopular in Little Hangleton, and the villagers were not sorry for his demise.[7] Whether Tom's personality changed after his ensnarement by Merope is unknown, but apparently not enough to change the townspeople's negative opinion of him prior to his death.




Tom's relationship with his parents was most likely a good one since all three of them shared the few types of things the Riddle family was described as Muggles, wealthy, rude, and snobbish. Despite his scandalous marriage with Merope, his parents nevertheless welcomed him back home when he escaped his wife and returned to the village, under the claim he has been "taken in".

Merope Gaunt[]

Tom originally looked down on and feared Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt because of their poverty, insanity, and open hostility to the community. His thoughts on Merope, in particular, are unknown, though it's known that Merope was able to get him to drink a Love Potion, suggesting he may have been willing to tolerate her company to an extent. Merope, an unhappy woman, became deeply enamoured with Tom, often watching him in secret as he passed by the manor. Her unhealthy fixation with Tom grew to the point where she conceived a plan to ensnare him by means of a Love Potion or the Imperius Curse.

Merope forced Tom to leave Cecilia and marry her under the influence of either a Love Potion or the Imperius Curse. Merope eventually became pregnant with Tom's child. However, as Albus Dumbledore had theorised, Merope, who was deeply, truly in love with her husband, could not bear to continue binding him to her by magical means and made the choice to stop giving him the potion, convincing herself that he might have truly fallen in love with her of his own accord, or even if he had not, that he would stay with her for their child's sake. When the potion wore off and Tom came to his senses, he left the pregnant Merope and returned to his parents' home, telling the townspeople of Little Hangleton he had been 'hoodwinked' and 'taken in', while never bothering to find out the fate of his wife or unborn child.[6] Merope was left in despair and lost her will to live as a result, and later died giving birth to Tom's son, naming him after her lost love, wishing that he would look like his father.[9]

Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt[]

It is unknown if Tom Riddle Senior had met Marvolo Gaunt and Morfin Gaunt in person. However, based on his conversation with Cecilia about them, it is known that Riddle considered Marvolo and his son 'tramps', and saw them as mentally disturbed, an opinion shared by most of the village. The Gaunts, in return, considered Tom to be a piece of filth because he was a Muggle, and despised him, even more, when Merope Gaunt (Marvolo's daughter and Morfin's sister) married him. Morfin once attacked Tom by hexing him for attracting Merope's attention.

Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort)[]

"You think I was going to use my filthy Muggle father’s name forever? I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch?"
— Tom Marvolo Riddle, after revealing himself as Lord Voldemort to Harry Potter[src]
Tom riddle cos

Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort), his son and future killer

During Tom Marvolo Riddle's time at Hogwarts, he originally believed that Tom Senior was a wizard, and asked Albus Dumbledore about this during their first meeting, to which Dumbledore replied he could not recall any of his students by that name off the top of his head. However, after a long search of the Hogwarts alumni records, Tom failed to find his father's name on the rolls. He concluded that it was his mother, not father, that had magical abilities.[10] He grew to harbour a passionate and ultimately deadly hatred for his father, believing that he had abandoned his mother after discovering her to be a witch, rather than fleeing her after she stopped giving him Love potion. (Ironically, up to this point he had been more accepting of his half-blood status when under the impression he had a wizard father, showing a long-time double standard, not unusual for the timespan in which he grew up and still not unusual today). His hatred led him to resent the entire race of Muggles.[8]

After an exhaustive search of the wizarding families, he found an unusual name: "Marvolo", which matched his middle name. In an attempt to seek out his maternal grandfather, Tom tracked down his father one summer, during his Hogwarts years, and murdered him and his family. The blame was placed on Morfin Gaunt.[10] Tom Marvolo Riddle used this death to make Marvolo Gaunt's ring a Horcrux.[11] After that, he cast aside the name of his 'filthy Muggle father' in order to fashion a new name to spare himself of the shame of having such a father.

In a sense of irony, Tom Riddle's Muggle blood, despite being reviled, and his genes were extremely beneficial to his son. The teenage Tom Marvolo Riddle had a natural sense of calm and gentlemanly qualities (in public) which he had likely acquired from the inwardly aristocratic demeanour of Tom Riddle Senior. The father's good looks had also passed to his son, making Tom Marvolo Riddle a subject of admiration for many girls, witch and Muggle alike. This was in stark contrast to the rough-cut looks and boorish demeanour of the Gaunt men on Riddle's matrilineal side. Of course, Tom Marvolo Riddle eventually cast much of these aside, his once handsome visage warped from years of extensive Dark Arts experiments, his personality becoming much more dominating and short-tempered.

In 1995, Tom Senior proved useful to his son a second time. One of his bones was used to help revive his son's body.[12]

Both Tom Senior and his son were obsessively loved by pure-blood witches. Tom Senior was loved by Merope, who became obsessed enough to use a Love Potion on him. Tom M. Riddle was obsessively loved by one of his Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix was so eager to please him that she would 'prune' her 'family tree' by murdering her niece.

Near the conclusion of the 20th century, Tom Riddle posthumously became a grandfather when his son sired a daughter, Delphini. It was unknown how Delphini viewed her paternal grandparents, although it seems that given her love for her father, she may have held posthumous love for Merope and Tom Riddle.

In a further twist of irony and hypocrisy, Tom Marvolo Riddle became the exact type of absentee father he believed his father to be. Although he died when Delphini was very young, he did not exhibit any obvious signs that he was now responsible for an infant daughter, such as attempting to avoid Dumbledore's Army and the forthcoming fight that would result in his ultimate demise. Also, like Tom Riddle Senior, he outlived the woman with whom he sired the fruit of his loins.


"...don't look at it, Cecilia, darling."
— Tom's affection towards Cecilia[src]

Cecilia was a Muggle who was heavily implied to have been Tom's sweetheart. Tom used terms of affection to her and comforted her when she was shocked by Morfin's dead snake. It can be presumed Tom lost her when Merope Gaunt forced him to marry her.[6]

Little Hangleton residents[]

Tom was a snobbish and rude aristocrat during his life in Little Hangleton. In the 1920s, Tom appeared to be caught up with the town gossip on the Gaunt Family. By the 1940s, Tom Riddle was noted to be more snobbish and rude than his already arrogant parents. The Riddle family thus was highly unpopular prior to the 1940s, and none of the town's residents even bothered to pretend to mourn for Tom's death. Instead, they were more concerned as to how he died, due to the lack of physical evidence.[7] The mystery became the talk of the town partly out of fear it could happen again.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Tom's flashback scenes were cut from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • For the time period of the 1920s when the class system was more prominent in Great Britain, Riddle's snobbish attitude was not unusual, nor was his disdain for the criminally insane.
  • Tom Marvolo Riddle thought that Tom left Merope because he hated magic and left her after she revealed herself to be a witch, which is the reason Tom Marvolo Riddle hated Muggles.[8] He never learned the real reason why Tom left Merope.[14]
  • Oddly, the replica of the Riddle family grave at The Making of Harry Potter lists Tom Riddle Senior with the name of his son (Tom Marvolo Riddle), and also places his date of birth at 1915, ten years after the version used in the final film. To further add to confusion, the replica gravestone lists Thomas and Mary Riddle as having died in 1913, two years before their son is listed to have been born, and thirteen years before the birth of their grandson and killer, Tom Marvolo Riddle (the final film correctly mentions their deaths as taking place in 1943).[15]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) - (see this image)
  2. In the Riddle House in the 1990s, there is a calendar - (see this image) - for 1943, which is still set on August, implying that was the month Thomas, Tom and Mary all died.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt) - 'Ogden hurtled up the path and erupted onto the main lane, his arms over his head, where he collided with the glossy chestnut horse ridden by a very handsome, dark-haired young man.'
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle) - 'There was no trace of the Gaunts in Tom Riddle's face. Merope had got her dying wish: He was his handsome father in miniature, tall for eleven years old, dark-haired, and pale.' Tom Riddle Senior's appearance must be alike to his son's.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  13. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  15. See this image