The Took family was the pre-eminent clan of Hobbits in the Shire, being wealthy and having held the office of the Thain for centuries..
The Took family was still, indeed, accorded a special respect, for it remained both numerous and exceedingly wealthy, and was liable to produce in every generation strong characters of peculiar habits and even adventurous temperament. The latter qualities, however, were now rather tolerated (in the rich) than generally approved.
Territory, origins and customs
Tooks were mainly of Fallohide Hobbit stock, and had quite a reputation for unusual behavior (among other things being more adventurous than the other Hobbits), a quality not valued in the Shire. For this they would be seen as less respectable, but those traits were "tolerated" thanks to their large numbers and wealth. An absurd legend among other families, was that one of the Took ancestors married a fairy. The Wizard Gandalf was a known, if disreputable, associate.
The majority of the Tooks lived in the Great Smials of Tuckborough and in the surrounding area of Tookland, which lay in the Westfarthing. A smaller clan called the North-tooks who lived far up in Long Cleeve; these were descendants of the legendary hero Bandobras Took.
As was customary in traditional hobbit families, the head of the Took family ("The Took") ruled the clan with his wife, thus upon his death, she continued to rule as the matriarch of the family. Such was the case with Lalia Clayhanger who succeeded her husband, Fortinbras, to clan leadership. However, the Thainship passed only through male descent, so her son, Ferumbras III, was the Thain immediately after his father’s death.
Took men usually were given high-sounding names which evoked battles, weapons or figures of legend, like Fortimbras or Isembold. Razanur Tûk (Pippin) was named after Razanur, a mythical traveller. Took women had names of jewels or flowers.
The first recorded Took was Isumbras Took, who in S.R. 740 became the 13th Thain of the Shire after Gorhendad Oldbuck crossed into Buckland and became the Master there.  Thereafter Isumbras Took was known as Isumbras I and the office of the Thain became hereditary within the Took family.
Excavation of the seat of the Took family, the Great Smials, was begun in S.R. 1083 by Thain Isengrim II.
Bandobras Took, the "Bullroarer", defeated an Orc-band in the Northfarthing in 1147.
Gerontius Took, noted for his friendship with Gandalf, held the record of the oldest Hobbit (living up to 130) and of most offspring (twelve) although those records were bested after the War of the Ring. Two of his sons, Hildifons and Isengar, were a few of the Hobbits who "went off" for adventures, sometimes inspired by Gandalf. Young Bilbo Baggins, Gerontius's grandson, used to pester Gandalf for information about his uncles and other Hobbits who sought adventures.
Hobbit heroes of the later Third Age, Bilbo Baggins and Meriadoc Brandybuck both had Took mothers. Peregrin "Pippin" Took, son of Thain Paladin II, participated in the Fellowship of the Ring and the War of the Ring.
After the War Peregrin became the Thain; in 1484 he handed his office to his son, Faramir Took I and rode away from the Shire (later it is said that he and Meriadoc were laid to rest beside the bed of King Elessar after his passing).
In the Fourth Age the Great Smials became an important repository of historic books and records.
Family Tree of the Tooks of the Great Smials
Showing the line of the Thains and prominent members of the Took clan. The figures after the names are those of birth (and death where that is recorded). A name preceded by an '*' indicates one who held the office of the Thain. A dashed line indicates marriage. Names in italics signify those who attended Bilbo's Farewell Party on 22 September S.R. 1401.
Family Tree Notes
- ↑ Tenth Thain of the Took line
- ↑ Including the North-tooks of Long Cleeve
- ↑ Went off on a journey and never returned
- ↑ Said to have 'gone to sea' in his youth
- ↑ Daughter of Master Samwise
Tûk was an older name of unknown meaning in Hobbitish Westron.
Took is a Welsh surname, referring to a type of sword. One of the earliest spellings of the Hobbitish form of the name in The History of Middle-earth (Tūca) matches the Welsh spelling for this name/sword, which suggests that Tolkien apparently was aware of the Welsh meaning.
"Took" was pronounced like "Two-k", not like "book" or "took" (as in the past tense of "take)".[source?]
The inspiration for the name Took may have come from Tollkühn, meaning "foolhardy".
- "She [Tolkien's aunt Grace] alleged that the family name ['Tolkien'] had originally been 'von Hohenzollern', for they had emanated from the Hohenzollern district of the Holy Roman Empire. A certain George von Hohenzollern had, she said, fought on the side of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He had shown great daring in leading an unofficial raid against the Turks and capturing the Sultan's standard. This (said Aunt Grace) was why he was given the nickname 'Tollkühn,' 'foolhardy'; and the name stuck."
- ― J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
Humphrey Carpenter, in his attempt to draw an analogy between Bilbo and Tolkien, noted that Tolkien's mother, Mabel Suffield, was one of three remarkable daughters of John Suffield, who (like Gerontius) was centennial and had three remarkable daughters.
The inspiration for Elvish blood amongst the Tooks may have possibly come from the Tollkühn family intermarrying with nobility:
- "The family [Tollkühn] was also supposed to have connections with France and to have intermarried with the nobility in that country', where they acquired a French version of their nickname, du Temeraire."
- ― J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
- "[Tolkien's] Aunt Grace preferred the more romantic (if implausible) story of how one of the du Temeraires [Tolkiens] had fled across the [English] Channel in 1794 to escape the guillotine, apparently then assuming a form of the old name, 'Tolkien.' This gentleman was reputedly an accomplished harpsichordist and clock-repairer."
- ― J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Of the Ordering of the Shire"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Hobbits"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Of the Ordering of the Shire"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Part of the Shire" map
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix C, "Took of Great Smials"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 214, (undated, written late 1958 or early 1959)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages"
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor", Appendix
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Note on the Shire Records"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "III. The Family Trees", Note 1
- ↑ Mark T. Hooker, Tolkien and Welsh, pp. 126-127
- ↑ Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, "IV. 1925-1949(i): 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit'", "Enter Mr. Baggins", page 175
- ↑ Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 54