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The Thain of the Shire (not to be confused with the term thane) was the title give to the traditional military leader of the Hobbits in the Shire after the fall of Fornost and the Dúnedain kingdom of Arthedain in the mid-Third Age. The Thain was Master of the Shire-moot and Captain of the Shire-muster.
The Hobbits first chose a Thain to rule them in TA 1979 (Shire Reckoning 379), four years after Arvedui, last King of Arthedain, perished. Over time, the Thain became a hereditary position, originally held by the Oldbuck Clan. Since TA 2340 (SR 740), the Thainship remained within the powerful Took clan.
Other office-holders of the Shire included the Master of Buckland and the Mayor of Michel Delving, as well as in the Fourth Age the Warden of Westmarch, a position created by King Aragorn II Elessar. The Thain's traditional duties involved the defence of the Shire from external attacks and presiding over meetings of the Shire-moot and Shire-muster. By the time of the War of the Ring most of the Thain's duties were ceremonial and the practical duties such as maintaining the Shire post were handled by the Mayor of Michel Delving.
"Thain" is a variant spelling of the Old English "thegn", an Anglo-Saxon designation for a minor noble, probably best known for its use in Shakespeare's Macbeth. While more commonly spelled "thane" in modern English), Tolkien used the older variant to represent the ancestral speech of the Hobbits.
List of Thains
The following table is a list of all known thirty-three Thains of the Shire. All dates are given in Shire Reckoning (SR) that lags behind the Third Age by 1600 years and passes ahead the Fourth Age by 1421 years. Thus, to convert SR to TA 1600 must be added, while to convert SR to FO 1421 must be substracted (SR 1422 is the first year of the Fourth Age).
|Thains of the Shire|
|I||Bucca||379 — ?||Unknown||The first Oldbuck Thain, who was elected by the Hobbits after the dissolution of Arthedain|
|II—XI||10 unnamed Oldbuck Thains|
|XII||Gorhendad||? — 740||Unknown||The last Oldbuck Thain, who abdicated Thainship after the removal to Buckland and became its first Master|
|XIII||Isumbras I||740 — ?||Unknown||The first Took Thain, who was elected by the Hobbits after his predecessor's abdication|
|XIV—XXI||8 unnamed Took Thains (including Isumbras II, Isengrim I, Ferumbras I, and Paladin I)|
|XXII||Isengrim II||1083 — 1122||1020 — 1122||The direct descendant of Isumbras I|
|XXIII||Isumbras III||1122 — 1159||1066 — 1159||The eldest son of Isengrim II|
|XXIV||Ferumbras II||1159 — 1201||1101 — 1201||The eldest son of Isumbras III|
|XXV||Fortinbras I||1201 — 1248||1145 — 1248||The eldest son of Ferumbras II|
|XXVI||Gerontius||1248 — 1320||1190 — 1320||The eldest son of Fortinbras I|
|XXVII||Isengrim III||1320 — 1330||1232 — 1330||The eldest son of Gerontius and Adamanta Chubb, who died childless|
|XXVIII||Isumbras IV||1330 — 1339||1238 — 1339||The younger brother of Isengrim III, second son of Gerontius and Adamanta Chubb|
|XXIX||Fortinbras II||1339 — 2980||1278 — 1380||The eldest son of Isumbras IV|
|XXX||Ferumbras III||1380 — 1415||1316 — 1415||The eldest son of Fortinbras II and Lalia Clayhanger, who died childless|
|XXXI||Paladin II||1415 — 1434||1333 — 1434||The eldest son of Adalgrim, first cousin of Ferumbras III, great-grandson of Gerontius|
|XXXII||Peregrin||1434 — 1484||1390 — after 1484||The eldest son of Paladin II and Eglantine Banks, who abdicated Thainship to his son|
|XXXIII||Faramir||1484 — ?||1430 — ?||Son of Peregrin and Diamond of Long Cleeve, who became Thain after his father's abdication|
|XXXIV—?||Unknown number of unnamed Took Thains, who continued their line in the Fourth Age|
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Italian||Conte della Contea|