Sirius Black took Harry through his complicated family tree, revealing many dark secrets along the way. Here is all we know about The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
The Sirius we know and love wasn’t the first one that existed in the Black family. Another Sirius Black existed as an early ancestor. Whether he was as noble and heroic as his descendant, who knows?
Phineas Nigellus was a former headmaster of Hogwarts School and Witchcraft and Wizardry. He had two portraits, one that lived in Dumbledore’s office and one that lived in Grimmauld Place. Phineas’s portrait wasn’t the friendliest of fellows, but did help out during Harry’s Hogwarts days when requested.
We wonder if Ursula Flint was an early relative of Marcus Flint, captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team during Harry’s Hogwarts days. In fact, the last name Flint has cropped up before. Minister for Magic Josephina Flint, for example. The name Flint was also part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight.
‘Dear Aunt Elladora’, as Sirius called her, started a family tradition of beheading house-elves when they got too old. This was the horrible reason why Grimmauld Place was decorated with mounted house-elf heads. A grotesque décor choice.
Iola Black was one of the earliest Black members to be burned away from the family tapestry. Her crime? Marrying a Muggle called Bob Hitchens. She wouldn’t be the first to be exiled from her family for dalliances with non-magical people. Poor Iola.
Bob Hitchens wouldn’t have featured in the original Black family tapestry, due to being a Muggle. We don’t know much about Bob, but he was clearly a lovable guy – Iola was burnt out of her family for daring to marry someone non-magical.
Another Sirius! This one was one of Phineas Nigellus’s children. We don’t know much about Phineas’s kids, but perhaps they took after their father, were all Slytherins and were all a bit rude.
Hesper was married to Sirius, the son of Phineas Nigellus. The last name ‘Gamp’ reminds us of Ulick Gamp, the first Minister for Magic, and ‘Gamp’s Law of Transfiguration’.
Phineas, presumably named after his father, was burned out of the family tapestry for supporting Muggle rights. The pure-blood-obsessed Blacks would not have appreciated that.
Cygnus was born to Phineas and Ursula Flint, and would end up being Sirius Black’s great-great grandfather. In Latin, ‘Cygnus’ means ‘swan’. Was Cygnus a particularly graceful chap?
Cygnus married Violetta Bulstrode, and the pair would go on to have four children. However, one of their children, poor Marius Black, was a Squib, which led to a traditional burning off the tapestry. The last name Bulstrode reminds us of Millicent Bulstrode, a particularly nasty Slytherin girl from Harry’s Hogwarts year.
Belvina was the child of Phineas and Ursula Flint. Belvina married Herbert Burke, and the couple had two sons and one daughter. The names of their brood, however, are a mystery.
Herbert Burke was married to Belvina Black. The last name Burke reminds us of Borgin and Burkes, the Dark artefact wizarding shop in Knockturn Alley. Any relation?
Arcturus Black was Phineas Nigellus’s son. His name would go on to be the middle name of Regulus Black. And, as is tradition, Arcturus is also the name of a star in the constellation of Boötes, which means ‘herdsman’ in Greek.
Arcturus married Lysandra, and the pair went on to have three children. Their daughter Cedrella Black was burned out of the family tapestry for marrying ‘blood traitor’ Septimus Weasley. Yes, a Weasley! The last name Yaxley is familiar to us, too. Corban Yaxley was one of Lord Voldemort’s most noted Death Eaters, and the family name is from the Sacred Twenty-Eight.
Another Arcturus Black was born to Sirius and Hesper Gamp. He married Melania Macmillan and had two children; Lucretia, and Orion Black: Sirius’s father.
Melania is Sirius Black’s grandmother. Macmillan is a last name known in the Sacred Twenty-Eight pure-blood directory of wizarding families, so we wonder if Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff in Harry’s year, was some distant relation.
Lycoris was the middle child of Sirius Black and Hesper Gamp. As far as we know, Lycoris never married or had any children.
We know of Regulus Black, Sirius’s tragic brother. But before that Regulus, there was another. He would have been Sirius and Regulus’s great uncle.
Pollux Black was one of four children born to Cygnus Black and Violetta Bulstrode. Pollux married Irma Crabbe and had three children.
Irma Crabbe has a very recognisable last name. It seems entirely likely that the pure-blood obsessed Blacks would allow a Crabbe to marry into their family. After all, we know that Vincent Crabbe’s father was a Death Eater. This means that Sirius Black’s grandmother was a Crabbe. He was probably thrilled.
Another Black, another name shared with a constellation. Cassiopeia was a known queen from Greek mythology, who boasted of her beauty. In the myth, she was the mother of Princess Andromeda. Interestingly, there’s an Andromeda in the Black tree too. This Cassiopeia would’ve been her great aunt, however, as she never had children of her own.
Marius Black was another unfortunate family member who was callously burnt off the tree for – what crime? – simply being a Squib. As well as anything to do with Muggles, the Black family were clearly not keen on having any non-magical person in the family. Poor Marius.
Dorea was one of the younger siblings born to Cygnus and Violetta. With Charlus Potter, they had one son. Alas, we do not know his name.
A Potter in the Black family tree! Could it be Harry and Sirius were in some way related? Seeing as pure-blood wizarding families usually run into each other eventually, it isn’t surprising there’s a Potter connection.
Callidora, Arcturus and Lysandra’s daughter, married Harfang Longbottom and had one son and one daughter.
Hark, a Longbottom! Neville’s family was one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight pure-blood wizarding families, so it’s not surprising the Blacks and Longbottoms got connected somewhere down the line.
Another burn-mark on the Black family tree. Cedrella married a wizard by the name of Septimus Weasley, and seeing as the Weasleys were known as a bunch of ‘blood traitors’, this little romance knocked Cedrella out of the tapestry.
Septimus Weasley is, indeed, the connection that cements the Black family with the Weasleys – although many of them weren’t very pleased about this. After all, the Weasleys are known as being ‘blood traitors’ – and this was the precise reason Cedrella was exiled from her family for marrying one.
Charis, one of the children of Arcturus and Lysandra, married Caspar Crouch and had three children; one son, two daughters.
Yet another familiar name graces the Black family tree. Crouch was a pure-blood family that were part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, so naturally they would have been encouraged to marry into the family. We wonder how Caspar is connected to Barty Crouch.
Lucretia was one of two children born to Arcturus and Melania Black. She married Ignatius Prewett, but never had any children. Because they were childless, it’s highly possible that Lucretia was Molly Weasley’s aunt, as Molly was a Prewett like Ignatius.
Ignatius could have been Molly Weasley’s uncle. Seeing as Molly was originally a Prewett, and her son Percy’s middle name is Ignatius, it seems likely. Sirius mentioned that Molly was a ‘cousin by marriage’. It makes sense that Ignatius’s marriage to Lucretia was the one he was referring to.
Orion Black was Sirius Black’s father. Orion’s grandfather, Sirius, was the brother of Cygnus Black, Walburga’s uncle. Yes, this would make Sirius’s mum and dad technically related. Anything to keep the family pure-blood, apparently.
Walburga was Sirius Black’s mother. Although she was long dead when Harry went to stay with Sirius in Grimmauld Place, her screaming portrait was permanently stuck to the wall to remind Sirius of his ‘treachery’ to the family. Much like many of the Blacks, Walburga hated Muggle-borns and ‘blood traitors’.
Alphard was Sirius Black’s uncle. He was another unfortunate family member who was burned from the family tapestry, probably because he gave a ‘decent bit of gold’ to Sirius when he ran away from home.
Another Cygnus Black exists far down the family line. He was Sirius Black’s uncle, and the father of Narcissa, Bellatrix and Andromeda.
The Rosier family were another part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. The Black family certainly attempted to tick off a lot of that list. Druella and Cygnus had three daughters, each very different in their own ways.
Sirius Black was burned off his family’s tree for running away from home as a teenager. After despising his family’s pure-blood obsessions, he forged a friendship with James Potter, learned to be an Animagus, and fought in the Order of the Phoenix in the wizarding war. After James’s death, Sirius was wrongfully locked up in Azkaban, but later escaped to meet his godson, Harry.
Regulus was Sirius’s brother, and had a unique backstory. After following a traditional Black path of being a proud Slytherin, Regulus joined Voldemort’s lot and became a Death Eater. However, after finding out about Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Regulus changed tack. He stole one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes from a cave – and lost his life for it, being dragged to a watery grave by a pack of Inferi.
Bellatrix was one of the most fearsome and depraved members of her family. A frequent killer and lover of the Unforgiveable Curses, Bellatrix spent time in Azkaban for the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom. Bellatrix was particularly enamoured with Lord Voldemort and was one of his most faithful followers.
Rodolphus was a Death Eater who married Bellatrix Black. He was sentenced to Azkaban for the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom, along with his wife and brother.
Andromeda was one of the more recent family members to be burned from the Black family tree. Her crime? Marrying a Muggle-born man, Ted Tonks, and having a daughter, Nymphadora. After the murder of her husband and daughter in the wizarding war, she brought up Nymphadora’s son, Teddy Lupin.
You wouldn’t see Ted Tonks in the normal Black family tapestry, because a Muggle-born wizard like Ted would definitely not be welcome there. Nonetheless, Ted sounded like a noble wizard with a happy family, proud of his blood status, as well he should be. He was tragically captured and killed during the second uprising of Lord Voldemort.
Narcissa was a conflicted character, but seemed to welcome the dark life of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. After all, her husband Lucius Malfoy was a prominent Death Eater in Voldemort’s pack. However, despite being unpleasant to Harry, she never was a Death Eater herself, and lied to Lord Voldemort about Harry being dead. This lie led to Harry tricking Voldemort, and eventually getting to kill him.
By marrying Lucius, Narcissa fused the Black family with the Malfoy family – meaning Sirius was technically related to the Malfoys, much to Harry’s horror. Lucius was a wealthy, conniving wizard who followed Lord Voldemort for a while, but eventually defected along with the rest of his family when the Dark Lord was killed.