Weekly Lore #1 — On Shirriffs

Shirriffs are the closest one comes to policemen in the Shire. They had no uniforms aside from a feather in their caps, and acted under the command of the First Shirriff, who was also the Mayor of Michel Delving. As a general rule there were only twelve in the entire Shire, with three assigned to each Farthing. It wasn’t a particularly difficult job, described by one Shirriff as “walking round the country and seeing fol, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was.” Their duties also occasionally included helping the Shirefolk with animals gone astray.

[Spoilers Follow]

During the War of the Ring, things changed somewhat once Sharkey and Lotho Baggins came to power. The ranks of the Shirriffs were greatly increased until there were hundreds, with Shirriff leaders being appointed and distinguished by a second feather in their hat. The Shirriffs were armed with staves, and permanent barracks called Shirriff-houses were built (or converted, often out of inns). Their new duties were to enforce the Chief’s Rules, often by dragging troublemakers to the Michel Delving storage-tunnels, which became known as the Lockholes. The Rules also forbade Shirriffs from quitting their jobs. During the Scouring of the Shire, most of the Shirriffs joined their kin in fighting the Ruffians, although a few chose to quietly disappear into the night instead.

The only named Shirriff is one Robin Smallburrow, from Hobbiton. A friend of Samwise Gamgee, he was a member of the contingent sent to arrest Frodo Baggins & Co. for Gate-breaking, Tearing up of Rules, Assaulting Gate-keepers, Trespassing, Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food. The attempted arrest was unsuccessful, to put it mildly.

Tag Search: ,
Comments: 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Weekly Lore #1 — On Shirriffs”

  1. Vandron says:

    Are Shirrifs the same as bounders then? Were bounders ever mentioned in canon as such or is that a construction of Turbine’s?

    The summary of lore from the books is welcome, but a little comment on it’s relevance to the game would also have been appreciated.

  2. Ofermod says:

    @Vandron: The Bounders, while distinct from the Shirrifs, are mentioned in canon. There were typically quite a few more bounders than Shirrifs, and their numbers varied based on necessity. They were known as Bounders because their duty was to “beat the bounds” of the Shire. They made sure that outsiders, whether beast or person, did not disturb the rest of the Shire. There were far more of them at the start of the Lord of the Rings than usual, due to a large number of reports and complaints about “strange persons and creatures prowling about [or over] the borders.”

    Thanks also for the advice about tying in articles to the game. I’ll be sure to do that for next week’s column, and might even edit this one to contain a bit once I get the chance.

  3. Vandron says:

    Cool! Thanks for that info. It just struck me as odd that you made no mention of Bounders in your original article, when that’s what many player’s (who may not have been as exposed to the Lore as yourself) would know from game.

    Anyways, Thanks again, I look forward to future installments.

Leave a Reply