This week marks the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which makes it the perfect time to look back at the universe J.K. Rowling has built over the last two decades. Of particular interest is one of her many Pottermore posts, “The Potter Family,” in which Rowling explores the family tree of her famous protagonist.
Lily Potter was the child of Muggles, but James Potter’s magical family goes back generations. In fact, Rowling writes that the Potters were only excluded from the “Sacred Twenty-Eight” list of pureblood wizard families because of their Muggle-sounding surname and their political outspokenness defending Muggles. The name “Potter” apparently originates with Harry’s 12th-century ancestor, Linfred of Stinchcombe, who was nicknamed “the Potterer.” It was Linfred’s son Hardwin who married the descendant of Ignotus Peverell, thus bringing the Invisibility Cloak into the Potter family.
Funnily enough, the Chosen One we know and love wasn’t even the first “Harry Potter” in his family’s history. That designation belongs to Henry Potter (known as “Harry” to family and friends), who served on the Wizengamot from 1913-1921 and publicly criticized the Minister of Magic for not letting wizards help Muggles in World War I. Henry’s son was Fleamont Potter, and Fleamont’s son was James Potter… making our Harry Potter the great-grandson of the original Harry Potter.
Rowling has frequently revealed new tidbits about Harry Potter since the books came to an end. Watch more in the video above.