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Mr. and Mrs. Riddle

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"Lying there with their eyes wide open!  Cold as ice!  Still in their dinner things!"
-- Maid at the Riddle House after finding the bodies in the drawing room.

Mr. and Mrs. Riddle

Grandparents of Tom Riddle Jr. (Voldemort) and parents of Tom Riddle Sr.

Mr. and Mrs. Riddle were wealthy landowners whose mansion overlooked the small village of Little Hangleton. They, along with their son Tom Riddle Sr., were found murdered in their house in the summer of 1943.

The elder Riddles were murdered by their grandson, Tom Riddle Jr., at the same time that he murdered his maternal grandfather and created a Horcrux using the Peverell ring.

Other canon notes and references

It's interesting to view the effects of a Killing Curse from the point of view of Muggle investigators. Rowling describes it with her usual pithy humor:

A team of doctors had examined the bodies and had concluded that none of the Riddles had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, suffocated, or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all.  In fact (the report continued, in a tone of unmistakable bewilderment), the Riddles all appeared to be in perfect health -- apart from the fact that they were all dead.  The doctors did note (as though determined to find something wrong with the bodies) that each of the Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face -- but as the frustrated police said, whoever heard of three people being frightened to death? (GF1)

Commentary

Notes

The Riddle family is likely part of the "landed gentry," a family which lives in a large home and owns much of the surrounding land. This fits with what Tom Jr. is says when his companion asks about the Gaunt shack:

"My God, what an eyesore!" rang out a girl's voice, as clearly audible through the open window as if she had stood in the room beside them. "Couldn't your father have that hovel cleared away, Tom?"

"It's not ours," said a young man's voice. "Everything on the other side of the valley belongs to us, but that cottage belongs to an old tramp called Gaunt, and his children. The son's quite mad, you should hear some of the stories they tell in the village —" (HBP10)

Pensieve (Comments)

  • ironyak1

    The given source (GF1) begins in 1994, and it says “Fifty years before, at daybreak on a fine summer’s morning…” when establishing the death of the Riddles. So why is their death listed as happening a year earlier in 1943? More JKR math at work? 😉

    • Personally I’ve not really thought of this as being a particularly bad one. I see “Fifty years before” as a kind of general statement people use all the time to give a general approximation of when something was. Once something becomes a significant amount of time past, being precise to the number of years before doesn’t really matter in general conversations. For times when you want to be precise, you’d just say the year instead.

      Just to give a modern big media example. Disneyland opened 61 years ago, but in their nightly fireworks show “Disneyland Forever” they still begin by saying “Sixty years ago, if you stood on this very spot, you’d be standing in an orange grove”, when that is not true of 60 years ago, 60 years ago you’d be standing in Disneyland a year after it opened, but they don’t bother changing it to “63 years ago” because it doesn’t flow well to say that.

      That said, as you point out, JKR has never been one to be particularly exact about dates and spans of time.

      • ironyak1

        I agree completely, just wanted to get a learned opinion (we’re having the same discussion on HP wikia). You might want to update the source to use HBP17 which talks of TM Riddle going to Little Hangleton “In the summer of his sixteenth year…” TM Riddle born 31 Dec 1926, turns 16 in Dec 1942, so that summer would be 1943.
        ETA: You have Tom Riddle Sr. d. summer 1944, although he was murdered at the same time as his parents, so there are some consistency issues floating about because of this math issue. Be interested to see how you resolve them. Thanks!

        • Great catch on the Tom Riddle Sr. date. Much of the text of the new site was copied verbatim from the old site, then edited. The text on the old site was written and edited over the course of 15 years, and every time new canon came out we had to try to go in and fix every reference on multiple pages. As a result, there were inconsistencies all over the place. We never did manage to squash them all, and it looks like some inconsistencies managed to slide through into the new site.

          I have a spreadsheet for our editors with the correct timeline of Voldemort’s life, taking all known canon into account. We do need to go through and make sure there aren’t other references still out there using old information but that they’re all using the actual canon timeline.

          “In the summer of his sixteenth year” means the sixteenth year of his life, which was 1942. That is the correct date for the murders.

          • ironyak1

            So wait, then we all have it wrong (including the films which have 1943 on the tombstone in GOF)?!?

            BTW, congrats on the redesign! HPL was always the goto site for details and deep analysis so it’s exciting to see it return to glory. Look forward to exploring it all again and seeing what fantastic new info you may have in store!

          • There is no objective truth here, so you aren’t necessarily wrong, just not accurate to canon. There was no actual person so there is not “real” answer, just interpretations from fictional text. You can make a case for interpreting that phrase meaning “the summer when he was sixteen,” but that’s not literally what it means. At the Lexicon, we take canon at its word and it actually says “his sixteenth year,” which would be 1942.

            As for the tombstone in the film, there’s a history to that. A still from the movie was released by WB before the film was released. At that time, the reference to “sixteenth year” wasn’t written yet, not was the exact year of Tom Marvolo Riddle’s birth known. All we had to go on was “fifty years ago.” The image of the tombstone that was released showed dates that were totally wrong. Fans quickly objected, offering suggested dates as an alternative and when the film was released, they had fixed the date in post production.

            The date that they used, 1943, was one that many fans suggested because of the whole “fifty years ago” thing, but when HBP came out that date can be fine-tuned to 1942 because of the “sixteenth year” phrase. So yes, the film has it wrong. That and many, many other things, which is why we don’t accept any film images as canon. They are very beautiful fan artwork — lovely, but simply a fan interpretation, not canon.

          • ironyak1

            Hmmm…. I agree with you about how badly the tombstone was done (and then redone) and you would be correct on the proper interpretation of “summer of his sixteenth year” but I’ll have to double and triple check for other possible mentions and the implications for the timeline… Day 1 and already clarifying misconceptions – HPL is back! 🙂

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