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Hobbiton (briefly occupied Bag End before his death)
Lotho is pronounced 'lo'tho' (where both o sounds are pronounced like the English word 'oh')
Lotho does not have a specific meaning1


About this entry:

  • Updated 9 May 2021
  • This entry is complete

Lotho Sackville-Baggins

The ill-fated son of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

The son of Otho and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Lotho was Hobbit with sandy-coloured hair and a pimply face.2 He came from a well-to-do family, and became wealthy himself in III 3012 (or 1412 by the Shire-reckoning) when his father Otho died. Lotho inherited many properties from his father, including several Leaf-plantations in the Shire's Southfarthing. By virtue of his relationship to Bilbo Baggins, he also had a claim on Bag End in Hobbiton.3

Over the following years, he traded with lands far to the south of the Shire, and it was later discovered that he had been sending the best of the Shire's Pipe-weed to Saruman in Isengard. Lotho's rewards from this trade were great, but he also fell under the influence of the White Wizard, an influence that would eventually have dire consequences. With his mother Lobelia, he legally acquired Bag End in III 3018 (S.R. 1418) when Frodo Baggins sold the Hobbit-hole before ostensibly moving away to Buckland.

After the departure of Frodo and his companions, it soon became clear that Lotho had been expanding his holdings across the Shire, and especially in the Southfarthing, so that he owned mills, malt-houses, inns and farms in addition to his Leaf-plantations. The Hobbits of the Shire were puzzled at the time as to the source of his sudden great wealth, though with hindsight it was clear that Saruman had been backing Lotho. According to Farmer Cotton, Lotho had begun to show greed and a desire for power over others, which were peculiar and unusual motivations for a Shire-hobbit. The extent to which these were Lotho's natural leanings is unclear,4 though they evidently began to grow after he came into the orbit of Saruman.

The Rise and Fall of Lotho Sackville-Baggins

During III 3018, Lotho used his wealth to hire Men and bring them into the Shire. Meanwhile he expanded his trade, sending many goods away into the South - to Saruman, as it was later learned - while the Hobbits of the Shire suffered privations and shortages.

Lotho quickly established himself in power across most of the Shire. As the year III 3019 began, the old Mayor, Will Whitfoot, was imprisoned in the new 'Lockholes' at Michel Delving, as were any others who dared to challenge Lotho's authority. Lotho now set himself up as 'Chief Shirriff', or simply the 'Chief', taking control of the Shirriffs and expanding their numbers. With Bag End as his base of operations he sent these Shirriffs across the land, using them, alongside his Big Folk to enforce his new Rules. Within the Shire, only the Tookland remained free of his influence; when Lotho sent his ruffians there, they were driven off by the Tooks and hunted across their lands.

At first Lotho's ruffians had worked at times around the Shire, building ugly sheds and felling trees, but as the months passed they abandoned such pursuits, burning, looting and spreading destruction across the Shire. Things became especially bad as the year turned to autumn, and it was later seen that this coincided with the arrival of Saruman. Having been defeated in the South, he and his servant Gríma had made their way northward and taken command in the Shire. While he ruled in Isengard, Saruman had been commonly known to his servants as 'Sharkey', and this became his common name in the Shire. The arrival of Sharkey from the South was ruinous for the Hobbits of the Shire, but it proved even more disastrous for Lotho. He soon disappeared from view, and at that time his fate was unknown.

After months of hardship and misery for the common folk of the Shire, the regime that Lotho had built fell as quickly as it had been established. When the four Travellers returned from distant lands, they rallied the Shire-hobbits and defeated the Chief's ruffians at the Battle of Bywater. After this, the remainder mostly fled, and the few that remained were later escorted from the land.

Frodo and his companions had at first suspected that Lotho had been usurped and imprisoned by Sharkey, but a search of Bag End revealed no sign of him. In fact he had not been imprisoned, but stabbed to death in his sleep by Gríma Wormtongue. The fate of his body was not revealed; it was perhaps secretly buried, but Sharkey darkly hinted that Gríma had been very hungry of late. (It was not long before Gríma turned his knife on his cruel master, so that Saruman met the same end as Lotho.)

Lotho's mother Lobelia, who had been as eager as he to acquire Bag End, suffered as much under her son's rule as any (and indeed she found herself placed in the Lockholes). News of her son's murder sent her into despair, and she retired to Hardbottle and died soon afterward. In her will, she gave Bag End back to Frodo, and gave her fortune (including all the wealth that Lotho had accumulated) to help the Hobbits who had suffered during her son's time as 'Chief'.

It took time for the Shire to recover from Lotho's time as the Chief. We don't know exactly when he died, but Sharkey was ousted from Bag End on 3 November III 3019, and within about six months, the Shire was largely back in order. Will Whitfoot was slow to recover from his experiences, and for a while Frodo served as Deputy Mayor, in which capacity he reduced the numbers of Shirriffs. Old Will returned to the office of Mayor on Mid-year's Day of the following year, III 3020. Indeed III 3020 (or 1420 by the Shire-reckoning), the year after the privations of Lotho's regime came to an end, was one of unparalleled bounty and plenty.



The name Lotho is explicitly stated to have had no particular meaning to the Hobbits of the Shire, though doubtless it was intentionally modelled on the form of Otho, the name of Lotho's father, and perhaps also incorporating the 'L' from his mother Lobelia.


In the original drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Lotho (or 'Cosimo' as he was then called) is introduced to the reader as being pimply-faced. This explicit reference to his features does not appear in the published book, but his common nickname was 'Pimple', and Sam Gamgee at one point refers to his pimply face, so the idea was clearly intended to stand.


Both Bilbo and Lotho were descended from Bilbo's grandfather Mungo Baggins. Bilbo was the eldest son of Mungo's own eldest son Bungo, and so he was the direct heir, while Lotho descended from Mungo's third son, Longo. Frodo was Bilbo's legal heir, but after Frodo, Lotho had the next strongest claim on Bag End by right of inheritance.


Lotho already had a reputation for being selfish and untrustworthy even before Frodo left the Shire, so to some extent Saruman played on the Hobbit's natural tendencies to build his own influence. On the other hand, Frodo was of the opinion that Lotho had - at least to some extent - been tricked by Saruman, and used by the Wizard as an instrument to spread chaos and misery.


About this entry:

  • Updated 9 May 2021
  • This entry is complete

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