This exact question was asked by Harry Potter himself in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. According to Dumbledore, Bob Ogden was employed by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement back when Voldemort’s relatives – the Gaunt family – were still at large.
Confusingly, we met Bob Ogden in the Pensieve, via a memory Dumbledore collected from Ogden before the Ministry official died. Dumbledore showed Ogden’s memory to Harry during one of their private lessons in Half-Blood Prince. Bob Ogden was dead by the time Harry saw this memory – he was around when Lord Voldemort’s mother, Merope Gaunt, was barely out of girlhood.
When Harry dropped into his memory, Bob Ogden was acting in his capacity as a Ministry official. A wizard called Morfin Gaunt had ‘performed a jinx or hex on a Muggle, causing him to erupt in highly painful hives’ and Ogden was tasked with seeking Morfin out and summoning him to a Ministry hearing. However, Ogden got a little bit more than he bargained for when he turned up at the Gaunt house. He was met by Morfin Gaunt who hissed at him in Parseltongue – a language he couldn’t understand – and was then hit in the nose by a thoroughly unpleasant spell. The rest of the family weren’t much fun either. Marvolo Gaunt, who we later learned was Lord Voldemort’s grandfather, was obsessed with being descended from Salazar Slytherin, and treated Ogden – as well as his daughter Merope – with utter contempt.
Appearance-wise, Bob Ogden was short, plump and wore ‘enormously thick glasses that reduced his eyes to molelike specks’. In the memory Dumbledore had collected, he was also wearing ‘the strange assortment of clothes so often chosen by inexperienced wizards trying to look like Muggles: in this case, a frock-coat and spats over a striped one-piece bathing costume’. It was a bold look, we’ll give Ogden that.
Bob Ogden might have only appeared on a total of thirteen pages across the Harry Potter series, but we reckon you can tell quite a bit about the kind of wizard he was from his brief encounter with the Gaunt family. He was definitely a patient man. Despite Marvolo and Morfin taunting and insulting him, he remained calm and professional, refusing to retaliate. He also made it clear he didn’t share Marvolo’s contempt for Muggles and didn’t give two hoots whether or not someone was of pure blood. He also protected Merope from her father’s temper at great personal risk. He was certainly brave to enter the Gaunt house alone, but not foolhardy – his logic told him to fetch reinforcements when Morfin chased him from the house with a bloody knife and hexes.
We’d bet our favourite Chocolate Frog card that Bob Ogden was a fair and just Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad.
Ogden’s memory of the Gaunts proved extremely useful to both Dumbledore and Harry in the fight and eventual defeat of Lord Voldemort. He shed light on the life of Lord Voldemort’s mother, Merope, and her son’s past – something that Dumbledore told Harry was ‘very important’, particularly when it came to the prophecy. Bob Ogden’s memory also provided vital clues about not one, but TWO Horcruxes, that Harry would have to ensure were destroyed before defeating Lord Voldemort.
Let us explain. In the memory, Merope Gaunt – Voldemort’s mother – was wearing a heavy gold locket around her neck. Marvolo almost strangled her with it as he pointed out to Ogden that it had belonged to Salazar Slytherin. After finding a fake version of the locket with Dumbledore, Harry would later break into the Ministry of Magic to steal the real locket from Dolores Umbridge. And Ron would eventually destroy it with Godric Gryffindor’s sword.
Ogden also saw Marvolo Gaunt wearing the black-stoned ring that Tom Riddle later made into his second Horcrux – a Horcrux Dumbledore himself destroyed before his death. But the ring didn’t just give Harry a clue about Horcruxes, he remembered that Marvolo had boasted that the ring displayed the Peverell coat of arms – a family inextricably linked to the Deathly Hallows. Arguably, the black-stoned ring of Bob Ogden’s memory helped Harry work out that Dumbledore had left him the Resurrection Stone.
We’d certainly forgive you for overlooking Bob Ogden. With an appearance on only thirteen pages of a book series with an enormous catalogue of supporting characters, Ogden might have been one that slipped your mind. He also only appeared in the Pensieve, so never truly entered Harry Potter’s timeline – and this can make him harder to remember. That being said, we hope that one day you’ll take a Harry Potter quiz and the winning answer will be Bob Ogden – and you can feel really, really smug.
Stay tuned for more Into the Pensieve articles soon!