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Rose Cotton

Meaning: Cotton 'cottage town'

Other Names:
Rosie Cotton
Rose Gamgee
Meril (HoME only)

Location(s):
Bywater
Bag End

Race/Species: Hobbit

Dates:
III 2984 - Mid-year's Day IV 62
(SR 1384-1482)

Parents:
father: Tolman (Farmer) Cotton
mother: Lily Brown

Siblings:
Tolman (Tom)
Wilcome (Jolly)
Bowman (Nick)
Carl (Nibs) Cotton

Spouse:
Samwise Gamgee, Mayor of the Shire

Children:
Elanor Gamgee
Frodo Gardner
Rose Gamgee
Merry
Pippin
Goldilocks
Hamfast
Daisy
Primrose
Bilbo
Ruby
Robin
Tolman Gamgee;
Lily Gamgee (HoME only)

Description:

The only daughter of Farmer Cotton, Rose 1 Cotton married Samwise Gamgee after the Ring War in 3020 of the Third Age (1420 SR):
[Through] all [Sam's] thoughts there came the memory of water.... He felt the cool mud about his toes as he paddled in the Pool at Bywater with Jolly Cotton and Tom and Nibs, and their sister Rosie. 'But that was years ago,' he sighed, 'and far away.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 3, Mount Doom

'What about Mrs. Cotton and Rosie?' said Sam. 'It isn't safe yet for them to be left all alone.'

'My Nibs is with them. But you can go and help him, if you have a mind,' said Farmer Cotton with a grin....

He jumped down from his pony and went up the steps. They stared at him in silence. 'Good evening, Mrs. Cotton!' he said. 'Hullo Rosie!'

'Hullo, Sam!' said Rosie. 'Where've you been? They said you were dead; but I've been expecting you since the Spring. You haven't hurried have you?'

'Perhaps not,' said Sam abashed. 'But I'm hurrying now. We're setting about the ruffians, and I've got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I'd have a look and see how Mrs. Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie.'

'We're keeping nicely, thank you,' said Mrs. Cotton. 'Or should be, if it weren't for these thieving ruffians.'

'Well, be off with you!' said Rosie. 'If you've been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?'

This was too much for Sam. It needed a week's answer, or none. He turned away and mounted his pony. But as he started off, Rosie ran down the steps.

'I think you look fine, Sam,' she said. 'Go on now! But take care of yourself, and come straight back as soon as you have settled the ruffians!'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

'And I hope my Sam's behaved hisself and given satisfaction?'

'Perfect satisfaction, Mr. Gamgee,' said Frodo. 'Indeed, if you will believe it, he's now one of the most famous people in all the lands, and they are making songs about his deeds from here to the Sea and beyond the Great River.' Sam blushed, but he looked gratefully at Frodo, for Rosie's eyes were shining and she was smiling at him.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

When all was at last ready Frodo said: 'When are you going to move in and join me, Sam?'

Sam looked a bit awkward.

'There is no need to come yet, if you don't want to,' said Frodo. 'But you know the Gaffer is close at hand, and he will be very well looked after by Widow Rumble.'

'It's not that, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam, and he went very red.

'Well, what is it?'

'It's Rosie, Rose Cotton,' said Sam. 'It seems she didn't like my going abroad at all, poor lass; but as I hadn't spoken, she couldn't say so. And I didn't speak, because I had a job to do first. But now I have spoken, and she says: "Well, you've wasted a year, so why wait longer?" "Wasted?" I says. "I wouldn't call it that." Still I see what she means. I feel torn in two, as you might say.'

'I see,' said Frodo: 'you want to get married, and yet you want to live with me in Bag End too? But my dear Sam, how easy! Get married as soon as you can, and then move in with Rosie. There's room enough in Bag End for as big a family as you could wish for.'

And so it was settled. Sam Gamgee married Rose Cotton in the Spring of 1420 (which was also famous for its weddings), and they came and lived at Bag End. And if Sam thought himself lucky, Frodo knew that he was more lucky himself; for there was not a hobbit in the Shire that was looked after with such care.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens

Time went on, and 1421 came in. Frodo was ill again in March, but with a great effort he concealed it, for Sam had other things to think about. The first of Sam and Rosie's children was born on the twenty-fifth of March....

'Well, Mr. Frodo,' he said.... 'Rose and me had settled to call him Frodo, with your leave; but it's not him, it's her. Though as pretty a maidchild as any one could hope for, taking after Rose more than me, luckily.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens

... Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens


History
3020
S.R. 1420: The Great Year of Plenty

May 1
Samwise marries Rose....

3021
S.R. 1421: The Last of the Third Age

March 25
Birth of Elanor the Fair, daughter of Samwise.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

1431
Goldilocks, daughter of Samwise, born....

1436
King Elessar rides north, and dwells for a while by Lake Evendim. He comes to the Brandywine Bridge, and there greets his friends. He gives the Star of the Dúnedain to Master Samwise, and Elanor is made a maid of honour to Queen Arwen....

1442
Master Samwise and his wife and Elanor ride to Gondor and stay there for a year....

1482
Death of Mistress Rose, wife of Master Samwise, on Mid-year's Day.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring


Etymology
Cotton, in fact, represents Hlothran a fairly common village-name in the Shire, derived from hloth- 'a two-roomed dwelling or hole', and ran(u) a small group of such dwellings on a hillside. As a surname it may be an alteration of hlothram(a) 'cottager'. Hlothram, which I have rendered Cotman, was the name of Farmer Cotton's grandfather.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: On Translation

Cotton. This is a place-name in origin (as are many modern surnames), from cot, a cottage or humble dwelling, and -ton, the usual shortening of 'town' in place-names (Old English tūn 'village'). It should be translated in these terms.

It is a common English surname and has, of course, in origin no connection with cotton the textile material, though it is naturally associated with it at the present day. Hobbits are represented as using tobacco, and this is made more or less credible by the suggestion that the plant was brought over the Sea by the Men of Westernesse (I 18); but it is not intended that cotton should be supposed to be known or used at that time. Since it is highly improbable that in any other language a normal and frequent village name should in any way resemble the equivalent of cotton (the material), this resemblance in the original text may be passed over. It has no importance for the narrative.

"Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
From A Tolkien Compass, compiled by Jared Lobdell
Chicago: Open Court Pub Co, June 1975


Notes
1Rose is one of the many flower-names used by Tolkien for female hobbits:
It's obvious that Tolkien, like Bilbo, loved flowers, and it seems he wished to portray the spirit of Shire women through that sweet, occasionally thorny, timeless imagery....

[The] rose, which grew in abundance in Tolkien's garden, is laden with history and symbolism. Roses have been prized since at least Roman times and developed over the ensuing centuries....

Wild rose (Rosa canina)
A wild rose, Rosa canina, after which Rosie Cotton may have been named.
There are two roses native to Britain that are easily envisioned in Middle-earth. One is the Rosa canina (briar, dog rose, wild rose).... It grows to around ten feet and can be cultivated as a dense shrub or on trellises. Although it has waned in popularity as more showy roses have taken prominence and is now used as root stock for hybridizing, it still graces the English countryside in hedgerows.

The other is the sweet briar, Rosa eglanteria. Like the Rosa canina, it can climb up trellises and through hedges....

The rose has wide, sometimes conflicting symbolism. It represents love and secrecy, transient love, change and mutability, steadfastness, religious devotion, and purity....

Despite its delicate beauty and reputation for touchiness, the rose is remarkably hardy. Many will thrive with little or no care, and an unwanted plant can be very difficult to retire; once firmly rooted, it will persevere. While there are countless roses, they escape commonality and are treasured, as is Rosie Cotton by Sam, who comforts himself during hardship with thoughts of her and her brothers in happier days.

The Plants of Middle-earth: Botany and Sub-creation, by Dinah Hazell, Ch 1, Hobbit Names

Contributors:
Sorrowful Eagle 12Jan03
Elena Tiriel 17Jun04, 1Dec04, 22Aug06, 06Oct08, 7May10, 14Aug10

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