Morfin Gaunt

Morfin Gaunt was a British wizard and a Parseltongue born to the Gaunt family which was from the ancestral line of Salazar Slytherin. Morfin was the son of Marvolo Gaunt, brother of Merope Gaunt and uncle of Lord Voldemort.

The Definitive Glossary for Harry Potter

Morfin Gaunt was similar to his other family members and very different from most wizards and witches in the wizarding world in that they all looked quite different from normal wizards. Centuries of inbreeding had given rise to several deformities in the Gaunt family. Morfin Gaunt was known to have long untidy hair and eyes that both looked in opposite directions, a little like snakes. He was filthy and would constantly attack Muggles from the village of Little Hangleton and scare them. 

Morfin almost exclusively spoke in Parseltongue. He was constantly in the company of snakes and had even nailed a snake to the door of his house when the Ministry official Bob Ogden paid him a visit. After the death of his father and sister, Morfin was one of the last members of the House of Gaunt, except for Lord Voldemort and his daughter from Bellatrix Lestrange, Delphi. Morfin first appears in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, neither Morfin nor the other Gaunts appear in the Harry Potter film series.

Early Life

Very little is known about Morfin’s early life or his mother. Morfin was one of the last pure-blooded descendants of Salazar Slytherin. He stayed in a small shack along with his father Marvolo and sister Merope. He is believed to be born around the year 1900. He was an extreme fanatic of blood purity, just like his father and their ancestors. He was also very abusive to his sister Merope especially because she was unable to perform magic properly. Both he and his father would harass Merope and call her a squib for being unable to perform magic.

The abuse towards Merope heightened after Morfin found out that she liked a Muggle named Tom Riddle Sr who lived in a mansion nearby. It is highly unlikely that any of the ancestors of Morfin or he himself attended Hogwarts as Salazar Slytherin had left the school. This may also explain why no other heir of Slytherin ever opened the Chamber of Secrets before Tom Riddle.


Morfin once attacked Tom Riddle Sr when he was on his way back to his mansion. Morfin was enraged to see Merope show interest in Tom Riddle Sr as he was a Muggle and therefore cast a spell that caused painful hives to erupt out of Tom Riddle Sr who was passing by the shack with his girlfriend. After a few days, the Ministry of Magic sent Bob Ogden, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Squad, to go to the Gaunt shack and inform Morfin about a hearing he was expected to attend in the Ministry. Morfin was seen with his wand in one hand and a knife in another. He was enraged and tried to attack Bob several times but was stopped by his father, Marvolo. Eventually, Marvolo tried to choke Merope when he found out that she fancied Tom Riddle Sr. This is when Bob Ogden tried to stop him, but Morfin sent a volley of spells at him in retaliation, and Bob had to flee. 

Bob eventually came back with reinforcements and captured both Morfin and Marvolo. They were both tried in the Wizengamot and were given prison sentences in Azkaban. Morfin served a term of three years in Azkaban, while Marvolo was given a short term of six months.

Tom Riddle

After his prison term in Azkaban ended, he returned to his shack. However, by the time he came back, both his sister and his father had died, and there was no one left to welcome him. Morfin also heard about his sister turning into a “blood traitor” and marrying a Muggle, which enraged him further. However, as time passed, Morfin became more disinterested in keeping his surroundings clean, and since Merope was not there to clean the place, it is said that the shack turned into a nasty place with dirt and grime everywhere. Morfin was almost unrecognizable with his overly grown hair and beard. His teeth and skin were also very smelly and dirty.

However, around the year 1950, Tom Marvolo Riddle, the nephew of Morfin, came to the Gaunt shack in search of answers about his family. Morfin told him about everything that had happened, and this left Tom very angry. He told Tom about his mother, Merope, and how she had eloped with Tom Riddle Sr. It is later revealed that Merope used a love potion or some enchantment to make Tom Riddle Sr fall in love with her, which is the reason he abandoned her when he came to his senses. 

Enraged, Tom Marvolo Riddle stole Morfin’s wand and went to the Riddle household. He then killed his grandparents and his Muggle father, Tom Riddle Sr. Eventually, he returned to the Gaunt shack, gave back Morfin’s wand, and altered his memories so that he could proudly confess to the murder of the three Muggles in Little Hangleton. He also stole the Gaunt ring from Morfin, which was once worn by his grandfather Marvolo and later converted it into a Horcrux.

Second Imprisonment

After the murder of the three Muggles in Little Hangleton, the Ministry of Magic arrested Morfin Gaunt as he had proudly confessed to the murder of the three Muggles. There was also a history of assault by Morfin on one of the victims, Tom Riddle Sr. However, nobody realized that Morfin’s memory had been altered by the young Tom Riddle, and therefore, Morfin was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban for the second time. He stayed there for most of his adult life. It is only after Albus Dumbledore found out about the actual perpetrator of the murders that he tries to fight for Morfin’s release.

Morfin and the Miscarriage of Justice

The second imprisonment of Morfin Gaunt in Azkaban is one of the classic cases of miscarriage of justice. Despite Morfin being a dangerous man who put several Muggles in harm’s way and believed in blood supremacy, he was wrongfully convicted of three murders he didn’t commit. The problem of wrongful accusation and imprisonment are as old as the justice system itself. Since justice systems work under limited capacities, it is sometimes difficult to catch the real criminal and this results in wrongful prison sentences and mistakes that can never be repaired. 

Even in the Muggle world, this problem has survived forever despite the advances in the justice system. To this day, several people are accused and later imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Several movies, like the Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999) have portrayed the difficulties and complications of wrongful imprisonment.


Did Morfin Gaunt go to Hogwarts?

No, Morfin Gaunt did not go to Hogwarts. It is highly likely that neither Morfin nor any of his family members, including Merope and Marvolo, went to Hogwarts. After Salazar Slytherin’s exit from Hogwarts, it is also possible that none of his descendants went to Hogwarts. Since the Gaunts believed in blood purity, they couldn’t stomach the possibility of sharing classrooms with Half-blooded or Muggle-born students.

Did Morfin Gaunt have a child?

No, Morfin Gaunt was not married and neither did he have a child. He spent most of his life in Azkaban, and in the limited time he spent outside prison, he lived with his father, Marvolo, and sister Merope but did not have a significant other of any form. Since he lived a life of poverty, squalor, pure-blood fanaticism, and violent response, it is not surprising that he did not find love.

What was Morfin Gaunt imprisoned for?

Morfin Gaunt was first imprisoned for attacking Tom Riddle Sr after he realized that his sister Merope fancied the latter. He was imprisoned for three years in Azkaban. He was imprisoned the second time when he was wrongfully accused of murdering Tom Riddle Sr and his parents. However, this only happened because his nephew Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort) altered his memories and made him proudly admit to a crime he didn’t commit.

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