Thomas Riddle (1880–1943) was a very wealthy Muggle who owned most of the town of Little Hangleton. He and his wife Mary had a son named Tom. The Riddles were snobby and looked down on most other people in town, in particular the poverty-striken House of Gaunt that lived nearby, becoming very unpopular amongst the locals.
The elderly Riddle couple suffered a great scandal when Tom eloped and married Merope Gaunt, the daughter of "tramp" Marvolo Gaunt. The pair left for London, but Tom soon returned to his parents' home, claiming to have been "hood-winked" and "taken in" by Merope. This may have referred to her being a witch and probably using a Love Potion on him to obtain his affections, or to her pregnancy.
In 1943, Tom was confronted by the son he had abandoned — Tom Marvolo Riddle, who had been left in an orphanage after his mother's death and who was a very powerful wizard. Thomas was murdered by his grandson with the Killing Curse, as were his wife and son. Riddle then framed his uncle Morfin Gaunt for the crime, and Morfin was imprisoned in Azkaban. While the Muggle authorities could not figure out how the Riddles had died, many people suspected their gardener, Frank Bryce, of being the killer. Thomas was buried in the Little Hangleton graveyard along with his son and wife, but their deaths were not mourned by the town due to their snobbishness.
Behind the scenes
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Albus Dumbledore refers to Riddle’s child, Tom (senior) as "the squire’s son." "Squire" is a British term referring to the leader of an English village, often a justice of the peace or a member of Parliament, indicating Thomas’s status in Muggle society.
The name "Thomas" is the Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta'oma’) which meant "twin".