The Other Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling’s Potter Family Tree Is Actually a Henry

J.K. Rowling loves letting little Harry Potter trivia loose now and then and a new posting on Pottermore has caused a stir. Are there actually two Harry Potters? Sorta.

In a posting called “The Potter Family” on Pottermore, the author delved into the famous character’s background noting “Potter is a not uncommon Muggle surname.”

In the Muggle world ‘Potter’ is an occupational surname, meaning a man who creates pottery. The wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’. Linfred was a vague and absent-minded fellow whose Muggle neighbours often called upon his medicinal services. None of them realised that Linfred’s wonderful cures for pox and ague were magical; they all thought him a harmless and lovable old chap, pottering about in his garden with all his funny plants. His reputation as a well-meaning eccentric served Linfred well, for behind closed doors he was able to continue the series of experiments that laid the foundation of the Potter family’s fortune.

But it’s not information about his last name causing all the hub-bub today but his first.

Occasionally, a Potter made it all the way to London, and a member of the family has twice sat on the Wizengamot: Ralston Potter, who was a member from 1612-1652, and who was a great supporter of the Statute of Secrecy (as opposed to declaring war on the Muggles, as more militant members wished to do) and Henry Potter (Harry to his intimates), who was a direct descendant of Hardwin and Iolanthe, and served on the Wizengamot from 1913 – 1921. Henry caused a minor stir when he publicly condemned then Minister for Magic, Archer Evermonde, who had forbidden the magical community to help Muggles waging the First World War. His outspokenness on the behalf of the Muggle community was also a strong contributing factor in the family’s exclusion from the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’.

Yes, that’s right. All those “THERE ARE TWO HARRY POTTERS” headlines you’re seeing today are over a guy named “Henry” who went by “Harry.” Not really a big deal if you ask me. A lot of names get shortened or changed to something else – Richard/Rich/Dick, Nicholas/Nick, Isabella/Bella, Elizabeth/Beth/Liz – but I admit I’d never seen this one before.

Considering the alteration doesn’t shorten the amount of letters in the name at all, I checked wikipedia to see where it came from and if there was some particular reason for it.

Henry is an English male given name and surname derived from Old French Henri/Henry, itself derived from the Middle High German name Heinrich, from Old High German Haimirich (from haim- “home” and rich “ruler”),[1] which was conflated with the name Haginrich (from hagin “enclosure” and rich“ruler”).[2]

The Old High German name is recorded from the 8th century, in the variants Haimirich, Haimerich, Heimerich, Hemirih.[3] Harry, its English short form, was considered the “spoken form” of Henry in medieval England. Most English kings named Henry were called Harry.

So basically, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just one of those things. Henry “Harry” Potter served on the Wizengamor and “condemned then Minister for Magic, Archer Evermonde, who had forbidden the magical community to help Muggles waging the First World War.”

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One Response to “The Other Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling’s Potter Family Tree Is Actually a Henry”

  1. WheelchairNinja says:

    I mean, Prince Hal (Henry V) was called Harry in all three of the plays he was in. This really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, folks! If anything I’m more amused by the incredible Rowlingness of having the surname come from Harry’s however-many-greats-grandfather being called Linfred the Potterer instead of working in the ceramics industry.