Pure-blood (most likely)
Caractacus Burke (fl. 1863) was one of the original founders of Borgin and Burkes. Caractacus was one of the people Albus Dumbledore interviewed to find out more about Voldemort's past. Dumbledore learned from Caractacus' memory that Merope Gaunt came to him when she was destitute, and sold him Salazar Slytherin's Locket for ten Galleons.
- "Yes, we acquired it in curious circumstances. It was brought in by a young witch just before Christmas, oh, many years ago now. She said she needed the gold badly, well, that much was obvious. Covered in rags and pretty far along ... going to have a baby, see. She said the locket had been Slytherin's. Well, we hear that sort of story all the time, 'Oh this was Merlin's, this was, his favourite teapot,' but when I looked at it, it had his mark all right, and a few simple spells were enough to tell me the truth. Of course, that made it near enough priceless. She didn't seem to have any idea how much it was worth. Happy to get ten Galleons for it. Best bargain we ever made!"
- —Caractacus Burke on his encounter with Merope Gaunt[src]
In 1863, Burke founded the shop Borgin and Burkes with his partner Borgin. The shop is located in Knockturn Alley, an infamous street specialising in shops that sell dark arts items. When Burke ran the shop he was known for taking advantage of people and driving hard bargains. This was demonstrated when, in December, 1926, he was visited by Merope Gaunt, a pure-blood descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Merope was destitute, and heavily pregnant with Tom Riddle. She wished to sell an artefact, the locket that had belonged to her famous ancestor. Burke was hesitant to accept her claims, having heard many such tales, but a few spells were able to confirm that she was telling the truth. He took advantage of her ignorance and desperation and paid her much less than its true value, about 10 Galleons worth. Burke later sold the locket to Hepzibah Smith.
Caractacus was a British hero who fought the Roman invaders. Burke is reportedly named after Irishman William Burke, a bizarre serial killer who, with help from a partner, murdered dozens of people in Edinburgh in the late 1820s, selling the bodies as fresh cadavers to a local medical school. 'Burk' or 'berk' is also a British term for an annoying and stupid person, with an original meaning in Cockney Rhyming Slang which is far stronger. Caractacus was also the first name of the character played by Dick Van Dyke in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Surname seen on sign)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Surname seen on sign)
- Pottermore (Surname seen on sign)
Notes and references
13B Knockturn Alley · Beard Trimming · Betting shop · Borgin and Burkes · Cobb & Webb's · The Coffin House · Moribund's · McHavelock's Wizarding Headgear · Mr. Mulpepper's Apothecary · Potage's Cauldron Shop · The Spiny Serpent · The Starry Prophesier · Wizarding Supplies · Ye Olde Curiosity Shop · Msaw Ætare