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Born c. IV 35 (1456 by the Shire-reckoning)1
Born in the Shire, but removed to the Westmarch as a young child
Open to question; see the text of this entry
Presumably lived at Undertowers, at least during her youth
Literally 'she that died', but probably taken from a poetic source2


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 January 2014
  • This entry is complete


A granddaughter of Samwise Gamgee

Fastred of



At least one
other sister

Fíriel was a High-elven name used by the Dúnedain, most famously as the name of a Gondorian princess who wedded Arvedui of Arthedain, and apparently ultimately a reference to Lúthien (the name means 'mortal maid'). At some point, the name was woven into a popular rhyme, "The Last Ship"3 which became known in the Shire. From that source, it was chosen by Sam Gamgee's daughter Elanor and her husband Fastred for one of their daughters.

Fíriel's surname is uncertain. Following Hobbit tradition, she would have taken the name of her father, so she would probably have been known as 'Fíriel of Greenholm' (or just 'Fíriel Greenholm'). However, her brother Elfstan founded the Fairbairn clan, so it's conceivable that, as a member of the same family, Fíriel acquired the name 'Fíriel Fairbairn'.



We don't have definite dates for Fíriel; the date of IV 35 shown here is an approximation based on the fact that her brother Elfstan was known to have been born in IV 33.


The name Fíriel dated back to ancient times, and was first given as name to Finwë's first wife Míriel after she gave up her life (hence 'she that died'). It also has poetic associations with Lúthien, whose own story of death and return resonates with the name's meaning. Historically, Fíriel was the daughter of Ondoher who became the last queen of Arthedain.

From one or more of these sources, most probably by association with Lúthien, the name found its way into a popular rhyme in the Shire, "The Last Ship". It is suggested (in the introduction to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) that Fíriel of Greenholm gained her name from this rhyme.


"The Last Ship" is included in the collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. There are hints in the poem that the Fíriel it describes was none other than Lúthien herself (for instance, it describes Fíriel dwelling by the Seven Rivers, just as Lúthien did). While its words are resonant with Lúthien's situation (she is tempted to sail into the West by the Elves, and refuses) it doesn't seem to match established versions of her story in any detail. If this Fíriel originated as Lúthien, then we must imagine that her tale shifted and changed as it was passed down through the generations.

See also...

Fastred of Greenholm


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 January 2014
  • This entry is complete

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