J.K. Rowling has relaunched Pottermore, and the website has received quite a makeover. (You also don’t need to log in to access its content anymore!!) And to celebrate, she’s gifted us with some cool new background on the Potter family–including where they got all that gold from….
Here’s what we’ve learned about the Potters via this helpful swath of history:
The surname Potter did not come with the family. Harry’s 11th century ancestor Linfred of Stinchcombe had the nickname “potterer” around his hometown, which eventually morphed into the last name “Potter.” This name is one of the reasons why the Potter family was excluded from the “Sacred 28” list of pureblood wizarding families; the creator of that list assumed that the Muggle surname meant that the family had some tainted blood in their background. Linfred himself was a man of great inventiveness, and spent his time concocting potions and remedies that exist in altered forms to this day (including Skele-gro and the Pepperup Potion). This allowed him to leave each of his seven children with a sizable fortune that would continue to be built upon by later generations of Potters. Linfred’s eldest son married Iolanthe Peverell, granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell, who inherited the Deathly Hallow Invisibility Cloak from her family.
The Potter family stayed relatively under-the-radar in the wizarding world, intermarrying with magic folk and Muggles alike. Two members of the family served on the Wizengamot, one during the 17th century, and one during the 20th century; this was Henry (Harry) Potter, grandfather of James Potter. He was known for being quite outspoken on behalf of the Muggle community, wishing to offer them aid during World War One. (This sympathy was the other reason the Potter family was left off the “Sacred 28′ list.) His son Fleamont–named so for his mother’s maiden name, which she wished to keep in the family–made a hefty sum of money by inventing Sleekeasy’s Hair Potion, the same used by Hermione at the Yule Ball. Fleamont and his wife Euphemia Potter lived in comfort, but were deeply saddened to be childless. Later in life, Euphemia became pregnant and their son James was born.
James’ parents lived to see him marry Lily Evans, but did not get to meet their grandson, Harry James Potter. They quickly succumbed to Dragon Pox at the same time.
Here’s the full text, if you’d like all the information in Rowling’s own words.