"Within a few months of their runaway marriage, Tom Riddle reappeared at the manor house in Little Hangleton without his wife. The rumour flew around the neighbour­hood that he was talking of being 'hoodwinked' and 'taken in'... He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son."
Albus Dumbledore regarding Tom Riddle Snr[src]

Tom Riddle Senior (19051943) was an affluent Muggle who lived in the village of Little Hangleton. He was the son of wealthy Muggles Thomas and Mary Riddle, who raised him to be snobbish and rude.

Tom was coerced into marring Merope Gaunt, by the influence of a love potion. He was the father of Dark Wizard Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort. Tom Riddle Snr was very handsome and this was what attracted Merope Gaunt. Sixteen year old Tom Riddle Jnr later murdered him and his grandparents. This was in retaliation for Tom's abandonment of his wife and unborn child. His death was used to make Marvolo Gaunt's ring into a Horcrux. In 1995 his bones helped his son return to full power


Early life

"She likes looking at that Muggle. Always in the garden when he passes, peering through the hedge at him, isn't she? And last night — hanging out of the window waiting for him to ride home, wasn't she?... I got him as he went by and he didn't look so pretty with hives all over him, did he, Merope?"
—Merope's infatuation with Tom Riddle[src]

The Riddle house, where Tom grew up and spent his adult years

Born to Thomas and Mary Riddle in 1905,[3] Tom Riddle Snr lived in a luxurious manor house not far from a run-down cottage that was home to the Gaunts, a wizarding family descended from Salazar Slytherin and Cadmus Peverell, outside the Muggle village of Little Hangleton. Merope Gaunt, who led a miserable life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father and brother, became infatuated with Tom, watching him ride by on his horse, sometimes in the company of a woman named Cecilia. Tom, on the other hand, mocked Merope for her poverty, but moreso her brother for his mental instability and her father for his reputation of being arrogant and violently antisocial towards the Little Hangleton people.[5]

When her brother Morfin noticed her interest, he hexed Tom with hives. The Ministry of Magic discovered this, among other incidents, and also arrested Morfin and Marvolo Gaunt for attacking Ministry officials. Both wizards were sentenced to Azkaban. While they were gone, Merope and Tom got married.[5]


Albus Dumbledore: "Can you not think of any measure Merope could have taken to make Tom Riddle forget his Muggle companion, and fall in love with her instead?"
Harry Potter: "The Imperius Curse? Or a love potion?"
— Discussion of Tom and Merope's marriage[src]

It was speculated by Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter that Merope used the Imperius Curse on Tom, but they decided that it was more likely she used a Love Potion to attract him. A Love Potion would have been much more romantic in her eyes than the Imperius curse. In any case, the two married, despite public disapproval over "the squire's son running off with the tramp's daughter." At some point in their relationship, Merope became pregnant with a boy.[5]

It was believed that Merope eventually stopped whatever enchantment she had used on Tom in the hopes that he had truly fallen in love with her since, or would at least remain with her for the sake of their unborn child.[5] She was wrong on both accounts, as he had reacted quite badly when the enchantment was lifted and discovered the truth as well.


"Tom Riddle left her while she was still pregnant... I believe that Merope, who was deeply in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving him by magical means. I believe that she made the choice to stop giving him the potion."
—The end of Tom and Merope's manipulated relationship[src]

Riddle reacted with revulsion to the truth of his relationship with Merope and fled back to Little Hangleton. He claimed to have been "taken in" by Merope, which may have been an allusion to her being a witch, or to her methods of attracting him. He did not state specifically that she used magic to seduce him, for the fear of being thought insane. Rumours in the town claimed that Merope had lied about being pregnant. Riddle's son himself came to believe that his father abandoned Merope solely because he discovered she was a witch.[7]

Whatever the reason, Riddle abandoned his wife, and she was left impoverished, broken-hearted, and alone in London. Soon after, she gave birth to a son she named Tom Marvolo Riddle, after the baby's father and Merope's own father, Marvolo Gaunt. Merope died shortly after giving birth and the child was left in the care of a Muggle orphanage.[8]


"Meanwhile, in the village of Little Hangleton, a maid was running along the High Street, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house: Tom Riddle Senior and his mother and father."
—A maid finds the bodies of the Riddle family[src]

In 1943[3] sixteen-year-old Tom Marvolo Riddle, who would later take on the alias Lord Voldemort, ventured to Little Hangleton to investigate his heritage. He learned the details of his parents' union from his uncle Morfin Gaunt and sought revenge on whom he saw as the man who abandoned him before his birth. Tom Marvolo Riddle murdered his father and paternal grandparents with the Killing Curse and framed Morfin for the crime.[9] His corpse was described as having a "look of terror upon his face."[10]


"You stand, Harry Potter, upon the remains of my late father. A Muggle and a fool... very like your dear mother. But they both had their uses, did they not? Your mother died to defend you as a child... and I killed my father, and see how useful he has proved himself in death..."
Lord Voldemort regarding the murder of his father[src]
Bones from the father

Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son

Tom Riddle Snr was buried in a Little Hangleton graveyard along with his parents, and their deaths were not at all mourned by the townspeople due to being very unpopular. Tom's murder was used by his son to transform Marvolo Gaunt's Ring into his second Horcrux.[11] Voldemort seemed to see this murder as retribution for the miserable existence his father had condemned him to in his abandonment, as well as his own triumph over his "filthy Muggle" heritage.[7] Voldemort made use of his father's murder again in 1995, when Peter Pettigrew used a bone from Tom Riddle Snr's grave to make the potion that resurrected him.[12]

Physical appearance

Tom Riddle Senior was a very handsome dark-haired man.[1] His son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, was noted to be the spitting image of him in his early years, which suggests that the older Tom was also tall, pale, and dark-eyed.[2]

Personality and traits

Cecilia: "My God, what an eyesore! Couldn't your father have that hovel cleared away, Tom?"
Tom Riddle Snr: "It's not ours. Everything on the other side of the valley belongs to us, but that cottage belongs to an old tramp called Gaunt, and his children. The son's quite mad, you should hear some of the stories they tell in the village... Don't look at it, Cecilia, darling."
— Tom's snobbish and rude personality, a byproduct of his upbrining[src]

As the only son of wealthy parents, Tom Riddle Snr was something of a snob and rather callous.[5] When he and Cecilia were riding by the Gaunt shack on one occasion, Bob Ogden ran out, having been terrorised by the Gaunts, and stumbled into Riddle's horse. Both Riddle and Cecilia "roared with laughter" at this.[5] Very handsome and wealthy, Riddle boasted to his companion about how much property his family owned. Tom also abandoned his pregnant wife and apparently made no attempts to find out what happened to his child, despite being made aware of Merope's pregnancy before abandoning her.[5]

Tom was described to be ruder and more snobbish than his parents, who were both very mean as it was. This made Tom immensely unpopular in Little Hangleton, and the villagers were not sorry for his demise.[10]

It appears that his son had inherited many of Tom's prejudiced and bigoted ways. However, his son's form of prejudice was on a much more massive scale and was directed at Muggle-borns, Muggles and blood traitors, which was the bigotry espoused by Tom's father-in-law, Marvolo Gaunt.




Tom's relationship with his parents was most likely a good one, since all three of them shared the few types of things the Riddle family was described as: Muggles, wealthy, rude, and snobbish. Also, when Tom abandoned Merope in London and returned home, they were most likely happy to see their son come back from "having been taken in" by Merope.

Merope Gaunt

Tom originally looked down and made fun of Merope and her family because of their poverty, their strange shabby appearances, and their exceptional disabilities. Merope then used a Love Potion on Tom, making them go on a runaway marriage. Merope eventually became pregnant with Tom's child. However, as Albus Dumbledore had theorised, Merope, who was deeply, truly in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving him by magical means and made the choice to stop giving him the potion, convincing herself that he might have truly fallen in love with her of his own accord, or even if he had not, he would stay with her for their child's sake. When Tom awoke from his enslavement, he revolted in what Merope did to him and immediately left his wife and unborn son, claiming to the townspeople of Little Hangleton he had been "hoodwinked" and "taken in".[5] Merope was left heartbroken and lost her will to live as a result, and later died giving birth to his son, naming him after her lost love, wishing that he would look like his father.[8]

Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt

It is unknown if Tom Riddle Snr had met Marvolo Gaunt and Morfin Gaunt in person, but if he had (since he was telling his companion Cecilia about them), then it is perfectly known that Riddle considered them tramps and they considered him a piece of filth because he was a Muggle and despised him even more when Merope Gaunt (Marvolo's daughter and Morfin's sister) married him. Morfin once attacked Tom by hexing him for attracting Merope's attention.

Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort)

"Surely, you didn't think I would keep my filthy Muggle father's name?"
—Tom Marvolo Riddle, after revealing himself as Lord Voldemort to Harry Potter[src]
Tom Riddle (16 years old)

Tom Riddle Jr (noted to look very much like him)

During Tom Marvolo Riddle's time at Hogwarts, he originally believed that Tom Snr was a wizard. He later found out that it was his mother, not father, that had magical abilities.[9] He grew to harbour a passionate and ultimately deadly hatred for his father, blaming him for abandoning him and his mother. (Ironically, up to this point he had been more accepting of his half-blood status when under the impression he had a wizard father, showing a long-time double standard). His hatred led him to resent the entire race of Muggles.[7] He tracked down his father one summer, during his Hogwarts years, and murdered him and his family. The blame was placed on Morfin Gaunt.[9] Tom Jr used this death to make Marvolo Gaunt's ring a Horcrux.[11]

In a sense of irony, Tom Riddle's Muggle blood, despite being reviled, and his genes were extremely beneficial to his son. The teenage Tom Marvolo Riddle had a natural sense of calm and gentlemanly qualities (in public) which he had likely acquired from the inwardly aristocratic demeanour of Tom Riddle Senior. The father's good looks had also passed to his son, making Tom Marvolo Riddle admired by many girls, Muggle and witch alike. This was in stark contrast to the rough-cut looks and demeanour of the Gaunt men on Riddle's matrilineal side.

In 1995, Tom Senior proved useful to his son a second time. One of his bones was used to help revive his son's body.[12]

Both Tom Senior and his son were obsessively loved by pure-blood witches. Tom Senior was loved by Merope, who became desperate enough to use a Love Potion on him. Tom M. Riddle was obsessively loved by one of his Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix was so eager to please him that she would "prune" her "family tree" by murdering her niece.

Near the conclusion of the 20th Century, Tom Riddle posthumously became a grandfather when his son sired a daughter, Delphini. It was unknown how Delphini viewed her paternal grandparents, although it seems that given her love for her father, she may have held posthumous love for Merope and Tom Riddle.

In a further twist of irony and hypocrisy, Tom Marvolo Riddle became the exact type of absentee father he despised his own father for. Although he died when Delphini was very young, he did not exhibit any obvious signs that he was now responsible for an infant daughter, such as attempting to avoid Dumbledore's Army and the forthcoming fight that would result in his ultimate demise. Also, like Tom Riddle Senior, he outlived the woman whom he sired the fruit of his loins with.


"...don't look at it, Cecilia, darling."
—Tom's affection towards Cecilia[src]

Cecilia was a Muggle that may have been Tom's lover, before he married Merope Gaunt.[5]

Little Hangleton residents

Tom was a very snobbish and rude aristocrat during his life in Little Hangleton, more so than his already arrogant parents. The Riddle family thus was highly unpopular, and none of the town's residents even bothered to pretend to mourn for Tom's death. Instead, they were more concerned as to how he died, due to the lack of physical evidence.[10] The mystery became the talk of the town partly out of fear it could happen again.

Behind the scenes

  • Tom's flashback scenes were cut from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • Tom Marvolo Riddle thought that Tom left Merope because he hated magic and left her after she revealed herself to be a witch, which is the reason Tom Marvolo Riddle hated Muggles.[7] He never learned the real reason why Tom left Merope.[13]
  • Oddly, the replica of the Riddle family grave at The Making of Harry Potter lists Tom Riddle Snr with the name of his son (Tom Marvolo Riddle), and also places his date of birth at 1915, ten years after the version used in the final film. To further add to confusion, the replica gravestone lists Thomas and Mary Riddle as having died in 1913, two years before their son is listed to have been born, and a full thirty years before the birth of their grandson and killer, Tom Marvolo Riddle (the final film correctly mentions their deaths as taking place in 1943).[14]


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt) - "Ogden hurtled up the path and erupted onto the main lane, his arms over his head, where he collided with the glossy chestnut horse ridden by a very handsome, dark-haired young man."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle) - "There was no trace of the Gaunts in Tom Riddle’s face. Merope had got her dying wish: He was his handsome father in miniature, tall for eleven years old, dark-haired, and pale." Tom Riddle Senior's appearance must be alike to his son's.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
  4. In the Riddle House in the 1990s, there is a calendar - [1] - for 1943, which is still set on August, implying that was the month Thomas, Tom and Mary all died
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  14. See this image