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Slain III 3019
Dwelt in the Bree-land, over the hill from Bree itself
The meaning of Tom in this context is uncertain;1 Pickthorn means 'thorn-spike'


About this entry:

  • Updated 27 February 2024
  • This entry is complete

Tom Pickthorn

A Man of the Bree-land

"...and little Tom Pickthorn from over the Hill..."
From Barliman Butterbur's list of the casualties at Bree
The Return of the King VI 7
Homeward Bound

One of the five Bree-landers to lose their lives in the fighting at Bree during the War of the Ring. Though Barliman Butterbur described him as 'little', he was evidently a Man rather than a Hobbit, though clearly not a very tall one. According to Butterbur, Tom's home was over the Bree-hill, which would imply that he came from the environs of Staddle, though he does not seem to have come from the village of Staddle itself.2



'Tom' is a common name among the people of the Shire and Bree-land alike. It appears to be an abbreviation, but cannot come from the modern (ultimately Greek) name Thomas, which would not fit the linguistic conditions of Middle-earth. In the Cotton family of Shire-hobbits, 'Tom' was a shortened form of Tolman, and perhaps that applied to Tom Pickthorn as well. However, Tom Pickthorn was a Man rather than a Hobbit, and came from the Bree-land rather than the Shire, and so it is entirely possible that his nickname 'Tom' represented a quite different (and unknown) full name.

Indeed, though 'Tom' in modern usage is usually a nickname, it seems at least plausible that 'Tom' was actually a full name in the Bree-land, and not in fact an abbreviation at all. In Old English, tom can mean 'gentle', and perhaps this was the intended source of Tom Pickthorn's name.


The details we have about Tom's home are minimal. Later in his list, however, Butterbur mentions another victim - a Hobbit named Underhill - as coming from Staddle, which would be a strange form of words if Tom Pickthorn also came from that place. Since the description of 'over the Hill' does not seem to match the other villages in the Bree-land, this implies that Tom Pickthorn lived apart from the main populations of the region.

See also...

Pickthorn Family


About this entry:

  • Updated 27 February 2024
  • This entry is complete

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