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Established at some point after the foundation of the Shire in III 16011
Probably held at Michel Delving, the chief town of the Shire2
Moot is an old word for an assembly3


About this entry:

  • Updated 11 May 2017
  • This entry is complete


Court and council of the Shire-hobbits

The government of the Shire, insofar as it had such a thing at all, was extremely loosely organised. There was only a single 'official', the Mayor of Michel Delving, who was responsible for day-to-day matters such as running the Messenger Service and overseeing the Shirriffs. There also existed the Shire-moot, of which we know nothing for sure except that the Thain was traditionally its master.

If the moot of the Shire followed the real historical pattern from which it takes its name, then it would be a meeting of Hobbits from across the Shire to hold a court, or otherwise discuss matters needing attention. A Shire-moot would typically be attended by representatives from the most important towns within a region, and the arrangement of Folklands within the Shire would mean that in practice the senior members of the most important Hobbit families would be in attendance when the Shire-moot met.

Apart from the Thain, we're not told exactly who would have attended meetings of the moot. Bilbo Baggins is one possible candidate: as head of the Baggins family he would have been the natural representative for his home town of Hobbiton, but no record exists of his ever being called to attend a moot.



The Shire did not have a Thain to preside over the Shire-moot before the year III 1979, when Bucca of the Marish was appointed to the role. Before this time, the Shire had been nominally under the rule of the Kings of Arthedain, but their line had come to an end five years beforehand. It seems reasonable to speculate that this significant change in the Shire's mode of government might very well have marked the point where the Shire-moot was introduced. Indeed, the assembly that made Bucca the first Thain may quite possibly have been the original Shire-moot.


As the chief township of the Shire, Michel Delving was involved with most of the important activities of the Shire-folk, and it seems probable that the Shire-moot was also held there. This is nowhere stated for certain, however, and given the importance of the Thain to the proceedings, it might conceivably have been held at the Thain's seat. At the time of Bucca, this would have been in the Marish, but the later Took Thains were associated with the Tookland in the Westfarthing.


'Moot' is a historical term, referring especially to meetings for debate and discussion held by the Anglo-Saxons and their medieval descendants. The word barely survives into modern English, but can be seen in the expression 'moot point', a point needing discussion. 'Moot' is etymologically related to the word 'meet', and this connection is visible in the name of the Shire town of Waymeet, whose name is also sometimes spelt 'Waymoot'.


About this entry:

  • Updated 11 May 2017
  • This entry is complete

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