Voldemort’s complicated family life caused a lot of strife in the Wizarding World in the Harry Potter series. Tom Riddle came from both a wealthy muggle family, the Riddles, and a pureblood wizard family, the Gaunts. Voldemort’s story began when Merope Gaunt married Tom Riddle, and they had a son, Tom Marvolo Riddle who would become Voldemort.
Merope likely used a love potion to convince Riddle to marry her, and after she presumably discontinued its use, Riddle abandoned his wife and unborn son and returned to the rest of the Riddle family. Merope went to an orphanage to have her son and died shortly after giving birth, leaving the youngest Tom Riddle in the care of the orphanage.
Tom Marvolo Riddle’s tragic family history had a significant impact on the events that followed and his rise to become the dark wizard Voldemort, but there is still much that is not known about Voldemort’s family.
J.K. Rowling has recently revealed more about the great and mysterious families that produced the most evil dark wizard in centuries. Both of his bloodlines have illustrious pasts, both famous and infamous, and some of what fans know about the families may be wrong.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Harry Potter‘s Riddle Family.
15. Few of Tom Riddle’s family went to Hogwarts
According to Tom Riddle, Parselmouths are a rarity at Hogwarts. In Chamber of Secrets, he told Harry, “There are strange likenesses between us, after all. Even you must have noticed. Both half-bloods, orphans, raised by Muggles. Probably the only two Parselmouths to come to Hogwarts since the Great Slytherin himself.”
His statement is strange, given that most of the known members of the Gaunt family were confirmed Parselmouths.
If Tom Riddle believed that no Parselmouths had been at Hogwarts before himself, he may have known that members of the Gaunt family did not attend Hogwarts, despite being a prominent wizarding family.
Only two members of the Gaunt family before Tom Riddle were confirmed to have been a Hogwarts students. Gormlaith Gaunt referred to Hogwarts as a “dangerously egalitarian establishment full of Mudbloods,” a view that may have led some members of the Gaunt family not to attend.
14. One of Voldemort’s relatives secretly protected the Chamber of Secrets
Convinus Gaunt is the only member of the Gaunt family that was confirmed to be a Hogwarts student, although Corvinus had an ulterior motive for attending the school.
Corvinus attended Hogwarts in the 18th century, when plans arose to install a plumbing system in Hogwarts. Unfortunately for Corvinus, he knew the Chamber of Secrets was right where they intended to install a girl’s bathroom.
At the time, the Chamber of Secrets was protected only by a concealed trapdoor. Corvinus Gaunt secretly protected the entrance to the chamber, adapting the Hogwarts plumbing system to conceal the Chamber of Secrets behind a sink so it could still be accessed.
13. Voldemort’s family history made him choose Harry instead of Neville
When trying to wipe out the child referred to in the prophecy, Voldemort had two choices of the child it could refer to: Harry Potter or Neville Longbottom.
In the end, he chose Harry Potter over Neville. J.K. Rowling explained that he chose Harry because he identified with him. Harry was a half-blood like Voldemort, while Neville was a pureblood. Since he identified with Harry, Voldemort decided Harry must be the greater threat.
Harry ended up sharing many aspects of family history with Voldemort. Both were born of a Muggle family and a prominent wizarding family. Both were raised by Muggles who hated magic and had a Muggle side of their family that despised and misunderstood magic. Both were raised as orphans mistreated by those who raised them.
12. The owner of the resurrection stone must have had a child
The Gaunts are directly descended from Cadmus Peverell, one of the three brothers who held the Deathly Hallows. Cadmus possessed the resurrection stone, which he used to bring back to life the woman he had intended to marry, as she died before their wedding.
However, she did not belong among the living and grew sad and cold, still separated in a way from the living. Cadmus was driven mad and committed suicide to reunite with her.
Despite his tragic story of lost love, Cadmus Peverell could not have died childless if he was a direct ancestor to the Gaunts.
He must have had a child either with his fiance before she died or some other woman. The fact does not align well with the story of Cadmus, which never mentions any child. Cadmus Peverell’s child remains a mystery not yet solved.
11. Voldemort may not have known about his mother using love potion
Dumbledore believed the marriage of Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle was the result of Merope dosing Tom with a love potion, and his departure was caused by Merope discontinuing use of the potion. However, Voldemort believed a different version of events. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he says his father left when he found out Merope was a witch.
These two versions of the story appear to conflict. If Merope was dosing Tom Riddle with a love potion, it is possible that Voldemort never knew of it.
Later, Voldemort appears to know his father was anti-magic, saying in the Little Hangleton graveyard, “he didn’t like magic, my father.” When Voldemort murdered his father, they may have had a conversation at that time about the elder Riddle’s reasons for leaving Merope.
10. One of Voldemort’s relatives founded Ilvermorny
Voldemort had a few illustrious relatives, as well, such as the founder of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Isolt Sayre was born to Riomach Gaunt and William Sayre, and she was raised by her aunt Gormlaith Gaunt after Gormlaith murdered her parents.
After being kept for twelve years by Gormlaith, Isolt escaped and fled to England where she lived as a Muggle boy. Gormlaith was tracking Isolt, so Isolt fled farther away by obtaining passage on the Mayflower and sailing for the Americas.
Once Isolt reached the Americas, she fled into the mountains to live, believing the Puritans would not accept a witch and worrying that Gormlaith would still track her there.
Isolt married a Muggle, James Steward, who soon accepted her magic. She began teaching magic to nearby children, laying the foundation for Ilvermorny School. She and her husband continued to grow the school throughout their lives.
9. Merope Riddle’s choices left Voldemort unable to love
J.K. Rowling has said that the relationship between Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle is symbolically important for who Voldemort became.
Voldemort is the result of a coerced relationship, not a union of genuine love. This act of coercion left Voldemort incapable of feeling or understanding love, especially since he remained unloved and alone throughout his childhood.
Rowling stated, “The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.”
Merope’s act of coercion affected Voldemort in a number of negative ways, as he entered the world through a loveless union, he was abandoned by his bewitched father, and he was left alone after his mother died following the heartbreak of Riddle’s abandonment.
8. Love potion is not the only possibility for Tom and Merope Riddle’s relationship
It was never proven in any way that love potion was the reason for Tom and Merope Riddle’s marriage. That was Dumbledore’s favored explanation, but Dumbledore did not know for sure.
All he did know was that the two married, had a child, and Tom Riddle went back to his family claiming he was hoodwinked. Dumbledore had also considered the possibility of the Imperius Curse, but thought she would have chosen love potion for its more romantic aspect.
There is a possibility that Voldemort’s version of events is true instead. It’s possible that Merope Gaunt never used any influence and Voldemort’s version of events is true, that his father was under no magic and left because Merope was revealed to be a witch.
7. Voldemort’s family name changes in translation
In the original English version, Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram for “I am Lord Voldemort.” The anagram heavily relies on his family names, Riddle from the Riddle family and Marvolo from the Gaunt family.
However, this anagram only works in English. In translations into other languages, Voldemort’s family names are changed to fit that language’s translation of “I am Lord Voldemort” or something similar.
The translations have made for some strange changes to Voldemort’s original name. For example, he has been called Tom Orvoloson Riddle (Italian), Tom Ruvel Doodler (Romanian), Tom Dredolo Venster (Norwegian), Anton Morvel Chert (Greek), and Tom Elvis Jedusor (French), among many other names.
6. Tom Riddle’s name came from a graveyard
J.K. Rowling drew many things for the Harry Potter books from her own environment. She has revealed characters based on real people (often people she knows), locations based on real places, and events based on real occurrences. Rowling is thought the have drawn the Riddles from her environment, as well.
Rowling is reported to have written some of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Edinburgh, Scotland in the Elephant House cafe. Near the Elephant House is a graveyard called Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, where Rowling says she often walked.
In a section outside the walls of the graveyard, usually reserved for people who committed suicide or enemies of the church, there is a headstone with the name Tom Riddell, the possible origin of the infamous Riddle family.
5. The Gaunts were fanatical about pureblood status
Merope Riddle’s family, the Gaunts, were pureblood descendents from Salazar Slytherin himself, and they took that status very seriously.
One member of the Gaunt family, Gormlaith Gaunt, killed her own sister because of this. Gormlaith believed in the supremacy of pureblood wizards. Her sister Rionach did not share her views and provided help to her Muggle neighbors. Gormlaith set fire to Rionach’s home, and Rionach and her husband died in the fire.
Gormlaith saved Rionach’s daughter Isolt from the fire and raised in her in hopes of setting her on the right path. Gormlaith was worried that Rionach’s sympathy for Muggles would have led her daughter to marry one.
4. The Riddles’ influenced Voldemort’s personality
Voldemort shares many characteristics with the Gaunts, like a fanatical obsession with pureblood ancestry. However, some of his worst qualities were also influenced by the Riddles. The Riddles were a wealthy family obsessed with money and status.
Thomas and Mary Riddle looked down on the impoverished House of Gaunt and most of their other neighbors. The Riddles were unpopular in their village because of their snobbish attitude, and the village mourned them little after their murder.
Apparently, their worst qualities were inherited by Voldemort through his father, contributing to his rise as a dark wizard. Pottermore stated, “[Merope’s] dying wish that the baby should resemble his father was granted. She couldn’t have known that the second Tom Riddle would go on to inherit his father’s callousness, too.”
3. Voldemort’s child may have been born during Half-Blood Prince
The recent play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child revealed a big secret about Voldemort’s family. At some point near his death, Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange had a daughter named Delphini.
The child would have been born sometime between the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and Bellatrix’s death at the Battle of Hogwarts. Given the timeline, Delphini was most likely born near the events of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In the books, Bellatrix Lestrange was noticeably absent during Dumbledore’s murder, leading fans to believe Bellatrix was probably pregnant with Delphini during this time.
The details of Delphini’s birth are unclear, though it is known she was born at Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix and Voldemort both died when Delphini would have been a baby, and Bellatrix’s husband was sent to Azkaban. These circumstances left little knowledge of Delphini’s birth.
2. Voldemort could have been different if Merope Riddle had lived
J.K. Rowling has stated that Voldemort could not understand love because of his family history, but his heartlessness was also influenced by his upbringing. Merope Riddle went to an orphanage to give birth, and even though she likely could have used magic to save her life, she chose not to and died hours after giving birth.
Her powers may have been drained by circumstance, but she likely did not want to use magic anymore and may have wanted to die. Her choice left Tom Marvolo Riddle unloved through his childhood.
Discussing Voldemort’s inability to love, J.K. Rowling said, “It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union – but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.”
1. Voldemort’s child is the only living heir of Slytherin
As Voldemort’s mother’s family line, the Gaunts, were the last pureblood descendants of Salazar Slytherin, Voldemort was the only heir of Slytherin.
Other wizards were related to Slytherin, including Harry Potter, but the relationship was not direct or their bloodline was not “pure” as Slytherin himself would have wanted. When he died, that would have extinguished the Slytherin line if not for the reveal of Delphini.
Since Voldemort and Bellatrix had a child, Delphini would then be the only living heir of Slytherin. At the end of Cursed Child, Delphini was still alive, meaning there is a living heir of Slytherin in the wizarding world, though Delphini was sent to Azkaban for murdering a Hogwarts student.
Therefore, the Slytherin bloodline still exists, but it is unlikely to continue after Delphini.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Harry Potter‘s Riddle family? Let us know in the comments!
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