Name: Gerontius Took
Meaning: “Gerontius” seems to be derived from the Greek Geron, or gerontos, “old man”. It is assumed that “Gerontius” is Tolkien’s translation of the name from its original language, as are many other hobbit names.
Titles: Thain of the Shire, 1248-1320
Other Names: The Old Took
Dates: 1190-1320 SR
Locations: Great Smials, Tookland
Parents: f. Fortinbras I, Thain of the Shire; m. unknown
Spouse: Adamanta Chubb
Children: Isengrim III, Hildigard, Isumbras IV, Hildigrim, Isembold, Hildifons, Isembard, Hildibrand, Belladonna, Donnamira, Mirabella, Isengar
Gerontius Took, usually simply known as the Old Took, reached a greater age (130 years) than any known hobbit of the Shire except for Bilbo Baggins. However, since Bilbo’s long life was an effect of owning the One Ring, Gerontius Took can be said to have had the longest natural life of any recorded hobbit.
He was the grandfather of Bilbo Baggins, great-grandfather of Frodo Baggins, and great-great-grandfather of Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took. He was also the great-great-grandfather of Fredegar (Fatty) and Estella Bolger.
The Fell Winter of 1311, during which the White Wolves came down from the north, took place during his time as Thain of the Shire.
The Old Took was a friend of Gandalf’s. Gandalf had been visiting the Shire since the time of the Long Winter in 1158 (only 32 years before the Old Took was born). Two of Gerontius’ sons, Hildifons and Isengar, were rumored to have been whisked off on adventures by Gandalf – the former ‘went off on a journey and never returned,’ the latter is ‘said to have “gone to sea” in his youth.’(1) Gandalf’s responsibility for these events has not been proven, but Bilbo seemed convinced of it, and Gandalf seems to have been able to tell stories about them.(2) Gandalf provided the Old Took with fireworks for the celebration of Midsummer’s Eve on at least one occasion (probably several), and is said by Bilbo to have given Gerontius “a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till ordered.”(3) Bilbo Baggins’ initial aquaintance with Gandalf, who said he knew him “very well, almost up to his coming of age,” is almost certainly a result of Gandalf’s friendship with his grandfather Gerontius Took.(4)
Pippin, in The Two Towers, mentions a room in the Great Smials that Gerontius favored: “the old room in the Great Place of the Tooks away back in the Smials at Tuckborough … the Old Took lived in it year after year, while he and the room got older and shabbier together.”(5)
(1) Appendix C, Family Tree of Took of Great Smials, RotK, LotR.
(2) “An Unexpected Party,” H, and “The Quest of Erebor,” UT.
(3) “An Unexpected Party,” H.
(4) “The Quest of Erebor,” UT.
(5) “Treebeard,” TTT, LotR.
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