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Hob Hayward


Race/Species: Hobbit


late Third Age


Hob Hayward is a Shirriff in the Shire at the end of the War of the Ring:
It was after nightfall when..., the travellers came at last to the Brandywine, and they found the way barred. At either end of the Bridge there was a great spiked gate; and on the further side of the river they could see that some new houses had been built....

They hammered on the outer gate and called, but there was at first no answer; and then to their surprise someone blew a horn.... A voice shouted in the dark:

'Who's that? Be off!... Can't you read the notice: No admittance between sundown and sunrise?'

'Of course we can't read the notice in the dark.' Sam shouted back. 'And if hobbits of the Shire are to be kept out in the wet on a night like this, I'll tear down your notice when I find it.'

At that... a crowd of hobbits with lanterns poured out of the house.... They opened the further gate, and some came over the bridge. When they saw the travellers they seemed frightened.

'Come along!' said Merry, recognizing one of the hobbits. 'If you don't know me, Hob Hayward, you ought to. I am Merry Brandybuck, and I should like to know what all this is about, and what a Bucklander like you is doing here. You used to be on the Hay Gate.' 1

'Bless me! It's Master Merry, to be sure, and all dressed up for fighting!' said old Hob. 'Why, they said you was dead! Lost in the Old Forest by all accounts. I'm pleased to see you alive after all!'

'Then stop gaping at me through the bars, and open the gate!' said Merry.

'I'm sorry, Master Merry, but we have orders.'

'Whose orders?'

'The Chief's up at Bag End.'

'Chief? Chief? Do you mean Mr. Lotho?' said Frodo.

'I suppose so, Mr. Baggins; but we have to say just "the Chief" nowadays.'

'Do you indeed!' said Frodo. 'Well, I am glad he has dropped the Baggins at any rate. But it is evidently high time that the family dealt with him and put him in his place.'

A hush fell on the hobbits beyond the gate. 'It won't do no good talking that way,' said one. 'He'll get to hear of it. And if you make so much noise, you'll wake the Chief's Big Man.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

[Said] Merry... '[We] want a lodging for the night, and as you seem to have pulled down the Bridge Inn and built this dismal place instead, you'll have to put us up.'

'I am sorry, Mr. Merry,' said Hob, 'but it isn't allowed.'

'What isn't allowed?'

'Taking in folk off-hand like and eating extra food, and all that,' said Hob.

'What's the matter with the place?' said Merry. 'Has it been a bad year, or what? I thought it had been a fine summer and harvest.'

'Well no, the year's been good enough,' said Hob. 'We grows a lot of food, but we don't rightly know what becomes of it. It's all these "gatherers" and "sharers", I reckon, going round counting and measuring and taking off to storage. They do more gathering than sharing, and we never see most of the stuff again.'

'Oh come!' said Pippin yawning.... 'Just give us a room to lie down in. It'll be better than many places I have seen.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

'Well now, what about a smoke, while you tell us what has been happening in the Shire?' [Pippin] said.

'There isn't no pipe-weed now,' said Hob; 'at least only for the Chief's men. All the stocks seem to have gone. We do hear that waggon-loads of it went away down the old road out of the Southfarthing, over Sarn Ford way. That would be the end o' last year, after you left. But it had been going away quietly before that, in a small way. That Lotho —'

'Now you shut up, Hob Hayward!' cried several of the others. 'You know talk o' that sort isn't allowed. The Chief will hear of it, and we'll all be in trouble.'

'He wouldn't hear naught, if some of you here weren't sneaks,' rejoined Hob hotly.

'All right, all right!' said Sam. "That's quite enough.... No welcome, no beer, no smoke, and a lot of rules and orc-talk instead. I... can see there's work and trouble ahead. Let's sleep and forget it till morning!'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

1Merry's remark, and Hob's family name, suggest that Hob might have been a Shirriff in Buckland before the Ring War:
The Shirriffs... were in practice rather haywards than policemen, more concerned with the strayings of beasts than of people. There were in all the Shire only twelve of them, three in each Farthing, for Inside Work.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Ordering of the Shire

Hayward.... A local official with the duty of inspecting fences and keeping cattle from straying.... The word is now obsolescent, surviving chiefly in the very common surname Hayward; but Hob... was supposed actually to be a hayward. The word is derived from hay 'fence' (not 'grass') + ward 'guard'. Compare High Hay, Hay Gate, Haysend, place-names in Buckland.

"Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
from A Tolkien Compass, compiled by Jared Lobdell
Chicago: Open Court Pub Co, June 1975

Elena Tiriel 1Mar10, 14Mar10

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