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Potter family

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Harry Potter: "Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts."
Rubeus Hagrid: "All yours"
Harry Potter: " [...] all the time there had been a small fortune belonging to him, buried deep under London."
— description of the Potter fortune[src]

Potter is the surname of an old wizarding family. They were once pure-bloods, but James Potter married Muggle-born witch Lily Evans, thus their son Harry was half-blood. The Potters have traditionally been sorted into Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry[1], they are also very wealthy, with a vault at Gringotts Wizarding Bank containing a great deal of gold[2].

During the First and Second Wizarding Wars, the Potters supported the Order of the Phoenix and opposed Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. James and Lily Potter were both Order members who defied Voldemort three times, and their son went on to be the leader of Dumbledore's Army and the one to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

Recent family history

First Wizarding War

Harry Potter was born during the height of the First Wizarding War. His parents, James and Lily Potter (née Evans), were both members of the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation created and led by Albus Dumbledore for those who wanted to battle Lord Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters. In 1979, Dumbledore witnessed a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney that predicted that a child with the power to defeat the Dark Lord would be born to parents who had defied him three times "as the seventh month dies". Voldemort was told part of the prophecy by Severus Snape, who had been caught outside the door after the prophecy was heard.[3][4]

Godric flash

The Potters' home in Godric's Hollow.

At the end of July in 1980, two infants were born matching this description: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Voldemort went after Harry, resolving to kill him, and thus marked Harry as his equal, as the prophecy foretold. The Potters went into hiding through use of the Fidelius Charm, first choosing their close friend Sirius Black as Secret-Keeper, but Black persuaded the Potters to use Peter Pettigrew instead, thinking that this less obvious choice would further protect the Potters. Pettigrew, however, betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, who attacked the family in Godric's Hollow on 31 October, 1981. Voldemort murdered James and then Lily with the Killing Curse, but he first gave Lily the opportunity to save herself, at the request of Snape, who had been in love with Lily for years. When she refused, Voldemort killed her, unknowingly invoking ancient magic that protected Harry when Voldemort then attempted to murder him. The Killing Curse rebounded, leaving Harry its only known survivor and Voldemort temporarily defeated. The incident also caused a piece of Voldemort's soul to be embedded in the scar on Harry's forehead, inadvertently making him into a Horcrux.[5]

Sirius soon discovered what had happened and pursued Pettigrew, who faked his own death and escaped. Sirius was subsequently framed and imprisoned in Azkaban for Pettigrew's crimes.[6] Harry, who became known as "The Boy Who Lived" for his miraculous survival, was taken in by his mother's sister, Petunia Dursley, her husband Vernon and their son Dudley. Harry was raised in the Muggle world by the Dursleys, who treated him poorly and never told him about his wizarding heritage. Because they were blood relatives of his mother, however, Harry benefited from magical protections as long as he could call Number 4 Privet Drive "home."

Inbetween the wars


James and Lily Potter as seen by Harry in the Mirror of Erised.

Despite his relatives' efforts to force him to be "normal", Harry was a wizard, and was informed of this fact by Rubeus Hagrid when it came time for him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1991. He entered the wizarding world, learned his family's history, and once again became a target of Lord Voldemort, who was still alive but in non-corporeal form and seeking to return to power.

Voldemort's inability to touch Harry, due to the lingering protection from his late mother, continued all the way up to his resurrection in 1995. Professor Quirrell, acting as host to Voldemort's soul, attempted to attack Harry to gain the Philosopher's Stone in 1992, but was prevented from stealing the Stone when he came into contact with Harry's skin, leaving Voldemort forced to return to his non-corporeal state.[7]

Second Wizarding War

PromoHP7 Harry Potter

Harry Potter, "The Boy Who Lives" and "The Chosen One"

Voldemort eventually overcame this by using Harry's blood to regenerate his own body in 1995.[8] Unbeknownst to Voldemort, this act also anchored Harry's life to his own. This was brought to light when Harry and Voldemort had their final confrontation in 1998 during the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry had spent almost a year destroying Voldemort's Horcruxes with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, only to discover during the Battle of Hogwarts that he himself was a Horcrux Voldemort made accidentally that fateful Hallowe'en night in 1981.

Harry willingly stood before Voldemort and was struck with the Killing Curse. Because of this, the part of Voldemort's soul within him was destroyed. Because Voldemort had taken some of Harry's blood — and thus Lily's blood, with its magical protections for Harry — within himself, Harry survived the Killing Curse for a second time. The two duelled one last time, and Harry defeated Voldemort once and for all.[5]

After the War

After the Second Wizarding War, Harry Potter became the youngest Head Auror ever appointed and married Ginny Weasley. The couple had three children — James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna Potter — and thus a new generation of Potters were born into a more peaceful world.[5]

Recent family members

James Potter was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Potter. James married Lily Evans and they had one child, Harry, who famously defeated Lord Voldemort. He eventually married Ginny Weasley, and they had three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna Potter.

Family tree

Peverell Family
Salazar Slytherin
Antioch Peverell
Cadmus Peverell
Ignotus Peverell
Ignotus Peverell's son
many generations
many generations
many generations
Corvinus Gaunt
Marvolo Gaunt
Black family
Morfin Gaunt
Merope Gaunt
Tom Riddle Sr
Tom Marvolo Riddle
Septimus Weasley
Cedrella Black
Dursley family
Evans family
Potter family
Apolline Delacour
Monsieur Delacour
Molly Prewett
Arthur Weasley
Marge Dursley
Vernon Dursley
Petunia Evans
Lily Evans
James Potter
Gabrielle Delacour
Charlie Weasley
Fred Weasley
Dudley Dursley
Fleur Delacour
Bill Weasley
Percy Weasley
Audrey Weasley
George Weasley
Angelina Johnson
Hermione Granger
Ron Weasley
Ginny Weasley
Harry Potter
Victoire Weasley
Dominique Weasley
Louis Weasley
Fred Weasley
Roxanne Weasley
Rose Weasley
Hugo Weasley
James Potter
Albus Potter
Lily Potter
Molly Weasley
Lucy Weasley

It is unknown who James Potter's parents were. They may, however, be Charlus Potter and Dorea Black, who are shown to have had one son on the Black family tapestry.


Harry with James and Lily Potter, his mother and father

It is known that James's parents were older when they had him, and Dorea would have been forty years old when she had a child if James was her son. However, it is also known that the Potters died of natural causes when they were old in wizarding terms, but Dorea Potter was only fifty-seven years old when she died, although, going by the ages that members of the Black Family — from which Dorea descended, did die — she lived to "old age" since most of them died in their fifties, possibly due to incest within the pureblood families.[10]

If Charlus and Dorea Potter were James's parents, James and his best friend Sirius Black would have been first cousins, once removed. Harry and Sirius, his godfather, would have been second cousins. Also, Harry's best friend/brother-in-law, Ron and wife, Ginny Weasley would be his third cousins. Harry would also be related, albeit distantly, to the Malfoys, Longbottoms, and Lestranges.[11]


Cloak of Invisibility

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The Potters' Invisibility Cloak.

The Potters descend from Ignotus Peverell, whose Cloak of Invisibility is one of the three Deathly Hallows. Unlike most Invisibility cloaks, it has remained intact for centuries, passed on from generation to generation until it reached Harry Potter. Harry temporarily became the "Master of Death" in 1998, as he was in possession of the Invisibility Cloak, the Resurrection Stone, and the Elder Wand. The last item's loyalty to Harry was crucial to his defeat of Lord Voldemort, as the Elder Wand refused to harm its true owner and caused Voldemort's Killing Curse to backfire. Of the three Hallows, Harry only kept the Invisibility Cloak for himself, as it rightfully belongs to his family.

Through the Peverell family, Harry and Voldemort are distantly related, as the House of Gaunt descended from Ignotus's brother Cadmus Peverell, who passed the Resurrection Stone to his descendants in a signet ring.[5]

Vault 687

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"Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts."
—Description [src]

This vault in Gringotts Wizarding Bank belongs to the Potter family. It appears to be of moderate depth and is deep underground, it is said to contain a small fortune.


  • "Potter" is a very common surname of English origin.[12] It traditionally refers to the occupation of making pottery.
  • Beatrix Potter was a well-known English children's author.
  • Potter's Field is the name for a burial ground for the unknown or unclaimed dead, particularly soldiers and orphans; the Potter family had many members that fit that description.
  • The Potter Box is a model for making ethical decisions developed at Harvard University. J. K. Rowling has also commented that she has liked the name since childhood.[13]

Behind the scenes

Notes and references

  1. In Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows, it is stated that James' father was a Gryffindor. James, Lily, Harry, and Ginny were all Gryffindors as well.
  2. Philsopher's Stone, Ch. 5
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  9. In Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Horace Slughorn states: "The whole Black family had been in my house, but Sirius ended up in Gryffindor!" This implies that all Blacks except Sirius were Sorted into Slytherin while Slughorn was Head of House. Dorea, born in 1920, presumably attended Hogwarts c. 1931 or 1932 to 1938 or 1939, and thus would most likely have been a student of Slughorn, who was stated to have begun teaching at Hogwarts around the same time as Albus Dumbledore in Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in 1938 or earlier.
  10. Leaky Cauldron: 30 July 2007 Webchat with J.K. Rowling
  11. Black family tree
  12. Behind the Name: Rankings for 'Potter'
  13. MuggleNet: Name Origins

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