Bounders are akin to the civilian militia force of the Shire.
They are complementing the Shirriffs as guardians of the Hobbits and watchers of the borders of the Shire, commonly called the bounds. Bounders have feathers in their hats as recognition of their duty, the more higher ranking bounders have 2 or 3 feathers.
- "Hello, Bounder <name>!"
- "What news of the bounds, friend <name>?"
- "I have been beating the bounds for over a year now."
- A group of Shire-hobbits that complemented the Shirriffs by helping to maintain order in the Shire. While the Shirriffs worked within the Shire itself, the Bounders patrolled its borders, turning back suspicious Outsiders and dealing with trouble caused by strangers. The exact numbers of Bounders is not known, but it seems that there would normally be more than twelve of them. In the times leading up to the War of the Ring, the number of travellers seeking to cross the Shire had increased, and so the numbers of the Shire's Bounders had grown to meet them.
- We have no record of the Bounders before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, which starts in the year III 3001, so it's impossible to say exactly when the force was first set up. However, the centuries after the foundation of the Shire were some of its most troubled, with the surrounding lands in a state of constant warfare: those times would have called for a force of Bounders, or some equivalent, more than any others in the Shire's history. On that basis, it seems plausible that the Bounders, or at least their precursors, dated back to the earliest times of the Shire's past.
- The word 'bound' isn't often used to mean 'border' in modern English, but it survives in a few phrases such as 'out of bounds' or 'beat the bounds'. Indeed 'beating the bounds' - that is, patrolling the borders - was literally the role of the Bounders of the Shire. -