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The Thain (Older Thegen) was a Hobbit clan leader; later, the term referred to the chief executive of the independent Shire. Thains were elected for life in the early centuries of the free Shire. After the first generations of Took leadership, the office became hereditary in their line. The term "Thain" was of ancient adanic lineage, used among the Riverman villages in Numeriador and the Eothraim encampments on the plains southern Rhovanion. Theoden of Rohan used a similar title for his kingship, translated to his native RohirricAlthane, or "Great Leader.” In the independent Shire, the Thain (an Oldbuck or a Took) inherited the dignity and authority of the Arthadan crown, while the Mayor (from another great family) received its judicial functions.

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