Having played the Bingo Boffin quests on Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online game, I wanted to look at and to see how the character, Bingo Boffin, created by MadeOfLions, fits into the published book, which for this article is the 50th Anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings.
‘Bingo Boffin’ does not appear at all in the published version. The only named Boffin, is Folco Boffin who is a close friend of Fredegar ‘Fatty’ Bolger. ‘Fatty’ is an NPC who you meet in Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 7 of the Epic Quest, ‘Horn-call of Buckland’.
Hobbits who are named Boffins are mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, in particular they attend Bilbo’s party and encounter the disappearing ‘Mad Baggins’.
As Bingo is not in the published book, my next step was to look separately at the names ‘Bingo’ and ‘Boffin’ and see what can be found from them in the published books.
First Name Bingo
The name Bingo is not in the published Lord of the Rings, but does appear in early drafts of the text, more details can be found in “The History of Middle-Earth, Volume 6 – The Return of the Shadow”.
In this very early draft Bingo Baggins was Bilbo’s son, and through a lot of name changes, eventually became Bilbo’s first and second cousin (once removed either way), Frodo Baggins, in the published text.
Tolkien had hit a plot problem from The Hobbit, where he had said that Bilbo “remained very happy to the end of his days”.
Thus Bilbo could not be a central character in the sequel, The Lord of the Rings, and another Hobbit had to take on the quests to rid middle-earth of The One Ring.
In this case, it was Bingo but Tolkien eventually changed his name to Frodo.
So the name Bingo ultimately becomes Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
Last Name Boffin
When The Return of the King was first published in 1955, Tolkien had spent a lot of time on the appendices, to the extent that the book was delayed, and the UK publishers, George Allen & Unwin, were getting a very large number of letters asking when will this book be released.
The appendices at the time were too big for the publisher, and Tolkien had to drop two family trees from Appendix C Family Trees. One of these family trees was ‘Boffin of the Yale’. The family tree has now been restored in the 50th Anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings.
From the family tree, you can see that Bilbo, Frodo and Bingo Boffin, would have shared a common ancestor, in Bilbo’s case his great, great grandfather, Buffo Boffin. Buffo was Frodo’s great, great, great grandfather.
Buffo had four sons and daughters, one of them Berylla married Balbo Baggins who was Bilbo’s great grandfather. Bosco Boffin was the ancestor of Bingo Boffin. The Boffin family tree is a bit ‘Tookish’ in its make-up, Bosco’s and Berylla’s brother, Basso was reputed to have gone on what looks like an adventure and ‘went to sea’.
Bingo does not appear on the family tree, but it is possible to work out where he should possibly be, and that is a descendent of Bosco’s grandson, Rollo Boffin. Based upon the dates in the family tree, I would place him as the grandson of Rollo.
This would make Bingo the great, great, great grandson of Buffo Boffin.
“The History of Middle-Earth, Volume 12 – The Peoples of Middle-Earth” shows how the Boffin family tree was developed by Tolkien.
If you look at the map of The Shire in The Lord of the Rings, The Yale is just south of Budge ford.
In the game, there is an interesting building at 32.8S, 65.8W in The Shire, which equates roughly with The Yale’s location on the printed map.
For more information on this, please look at Appendix C of the 50th Anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Volume 6 and Volume 12 of the History of Middle-Earth, edited by Christopher Tolkien.
Written by Trotter