"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."
Albus Dumbledore on Tom Riddle Sr.[src]

Tom Riddle Sr. (19051943) was an affluent Muggle who lived in the village of Little Hangleton. He was the son of wealthy Muggles Thomas and Mary Riddle.

Tom was married to Merope Gaunt while under the influence of a Love Potion, and was the father of Dark Wizard Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort. Tom Riddle Sr. was very handsome and this was what attracted Merope Gaunt. Sixteen year old Tom Riddle later killed Tom and his grandparents in retaliation for Tom's abandonment of his wife and unborn child, and later used this death to make Marvolo Gaunt's Ring a Horcrux. In 1995, his bones helped his son return to 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?"
Morfin Gaunt on Merope's infatuation with Tom Riddle[src]

Born to Thomas and Mary Riddle in 1905,[2] Tom Riddle Sr. 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, mocked Merope and her family for their poverty and mental instability.[1]

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.[1]


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."
Dumbledore and Harry[src]

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. 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.[1]

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.[1]


"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. Perhaps, besotted as she was, she had convinced herself that he would by now have fallen in love with her in return. Perhaps she thought he would stay for the baby's sake. If so, she was wrong on both counts. He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son."
Albus Dumbledore[src]

Riddle reacted with revulsion to the truth of his relationship with Merope and fled back to Little Hangleton. He claimed to have been "taken in" by Merope, which may have been an allusion to her being a witch, or to her methods of attracting him. 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. Riddle's son himself came to believe that his father abandoned Merope solely because he discovered she was a witch.[4]

Whatever the reason, Riddle abandoned his wife, and she was left impoverished, broken-hearted, 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 and the child was left in the care of a Muggle orphanage.[5]


Marvolo Gaunt's Ring

Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, the Horcrux Tom Marvolo made from Tom's death.

In 1943,[2] 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.[6] 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[src]
Voldemort rebirth

Tom's son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, during his rebirth.

Tom Riddle Sr. was buried in a Little Hangleton graveyard along with his parents, and their deaths were not at all mourned by the townspeople due to their being very unpopular. Tom's murder was used by his son to transform Marvolo Gaunt's Ring into his second Horcrux.[8] 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.[4] Voldemort made use of his father's murder again in 1995, when Peter Pettigrew used a bone from Tom Riddle Sr.'s grave to make the potion that resurrected him.[9]

Physical appearance


His son, who was noted to look very much like him

Tom Riddle Sr. was a very handsome man jet black-haired, dark-eyed, and pale.[1] His son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, was noted to be the spitting image of him in his early years, and with his son being tall for his age suggests that the elder Tom is also tall.[5]

Personality and traits

Cecilia: "My God, what an eyesore! Couldn't your father have that hovel cleared away, Tom?"
Tom Riddle Sr.: "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... Don't look at it, Cecilia, darling."
— Tom and Cecilia passing by the Gaunt shack[src]

The son of wealthy parents, Tom Riddle Sr. was something of a snob and rather callous.[1] 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 this.[1] Very handsome and wealthy, Riddle boasted to his companion about how much property his family owned. Tom also abandoned his pregnant wife and apparently made no attempts to find out what happened to his child, despite being made aware of Merope's pregnancy before abandoning her.[1]

Tom was described to be ruder and more snobbish than his parents, who were both very mean as it was. This made Tom immensely unpopular in Little Hangleton, and the villagers were not sorry for his demise.[7]

It appears that his son had inherited many of Tom's prejudiced and bigoted ways. However, his son's form of prejudice was on a much more massive scale and was directed at Muggle-borns, Muggles and blood traitors.



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. Also, when Tom abandoned Merope in London and returning home, they were most likely happy to see their son come back from "having been taken in" by Merope.

Merope Gaunt

Tom originally looked down and made fun of Merope and her family because of their poverty, their strange shabby appearances, and their exceptional disabilities. Merope then used a Love Potion on Tom, making them go on a runaway marriage. 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 enslaving him 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, he would stay with her for their child's sake. When Tom awoke from his enslavement, he revolted in what Merope did to him and immediately left his wife and unborn son, claiming to the townspeople of Little Hangleton he had been "hoodwinked" and "taken in".[1] Merope was left heartbroken and lost her will to live as a result, and later died giving birth to his son, naming him after her lost love, wishing that he would look like his father.[5]

Tom Marvolo Riddle/Lord Voldemort

"Surely, you didn't think I would keep my filthy Muggle father's name?"
—Tom Marvolo Riddle, after revealing himself as Lord Voldemort to Harry Potter[src]

During Tom Marvolo Riddle's time at Hogwarts, he originally believed his father was a wizard. He later found out that it was his mother, not father, that had magical abilities.[6] He grew to harbour a passionate and ultimately deadly hatred for his father, blaming him for abandoning him and his mother. His hatred eventually evolved and spiralled completely out of control, leading him to forsake the entire race of Muggles.[4]

He later tracked down his father during the summer of his sixth year and killed him and his family, placing the blame on his uncle Morfin.[6] He later used this death to make Marvolo Gaunt's Ring a Horcrux.[8] One of his bones was also used to help his son revive Voldemort's body.[9]


" [...] don't look at it Cecilia, darling."
—Tom and Cecilia on a stroll[src]

Cecilia was a Muggle that may have been Tom's lover before he married Merope Gaunt.[1]

Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt

" [...] dirt-veined muggle [...]'"
—Marvolo Gaunt describing Tom[src]

It is unknown if Tom Riddle Sr. had met Marvolo Gaunt and Morfin Gaunt in person, but if he had (since he was telling his companion Cecilia about them), then it is perfectly known that Riddle considered them tramps and they considered him 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.

Behind the scenes


  • Tom's flashback scenes were not included in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • 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.[4] He never learned the real reason why Tom left Merope.[10]
  • Oddly, the replica of the Riddle family grave at The Making of Harry Potter lists Tom Riddle Sr. 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 a full thirty years before the birth of their grandson and killer, Tom Marvolo Riddle (the final film correctly mentions their deaths as taking place in 1943).[11]


Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 13 (A Very Secret Diary)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 17 (A Very Sluggish Memory)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood, and Bone)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Chapter 35 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  11. See this image
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