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The four Farthings were four of the five (later six) divisions of the Shire. They were known simply as Northfarthing, Westfarthing, Southfarthing and Eastfarthing.[1][2] The Westron word was tharni, the Sindarin word (presumably) canath.[3]

Farthings were further divided into folklands, that bore the names of the land's leading family, such as Tookland of the Westfarthing, named after the Took Family; although many other families had migrated to other regions by the late Third Age.[1]

The Watch assigned three Shirriffs to each Farthing.[1]

Buckland (the East March) was not a part of the Shire, and the Westmarch was not a part of any Farthing.[1]

[edit] Etymology

In English a farthing (Old English feorðing "fourth part, quarter" > ferthing "a negligible amount") is a quarter of a penny.[4]

In Shire geography used in the original sense "fourth part". Tolkien noted that the application to the divisions of the Shire to English ears has a perhaps comical effect.[4]

[edit] Inspiration

The four Farthings of the Shire were based on the three traditional Ridings (from the Old English thridings) of Yorkshire, which were formerly used as administrative divisions of the county (North Riding, West Riding and East Riding).[4][5]

"Farthing" was used in Gloucestershire. Tolkien did not mention this in Nomenclature, but it is likely he knew of its existence as his wife Edith Bratt was born in Gloucestershire.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Of the Ordering of the Shire"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", §41
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 770 (see also p. 32)
  5. Riding (division) at Wikipedia