Today's Date in the Shire
T.A. 3019 - The Hobbits and Gandalf arrive at Bree at night.
Fun and Games
Walk to Rivendell
Malbeth the Seer
Why did Bilbo choose Frodo as his heir?
Bilbo Baggins was gone for more than a year on his journey to the Lonely Mountain and back. When he finally returned he was surprised to find that not only was he presumed dead, but his home at Bag End was being cleared out by auctioneers.
Either by legal will or common law, his luxurious hobbit hole was being passed down to his next of kin, the Sackville-Bagginses, and his belongings were being sold to the highest bidder.
Because Mr. Baggins was obviously still among the living, the auction had to be halted at once and all of his belongings returned. Unfortunately, most of his possessions had already been sold, and many of the items were never returned. The Sackville-Bagginses returned home (to Sackville?) a few silver spoons richer and convinced that an imposter had robbed them of their inheritance.
Bilbo soon settled back comfortably into the role of the master of Bag End, but the shock of almost losing his home never left him. After all, the hobbit hole was very dear to him. He was most likely born at Bag End, and he had lived there all of his life. In fact, his father, Bungo Baggins, had built it as a gift to his wife, Miss Belladonna Took, one of the three daughters of the Old Took. When Belladonna died in 1334, eight years after Bungo passed away, Bilbo was left as the sole occupant of Bag-End. Until Gandalf arrived on that fateful April morning, Bilbo had probably never given a thought to the fate of his wonderful home if something were to happen to him.
Eventually, things returned to normal, and Bilbo put the matter of the fate of Bag End out of his mind. He was only 51 years old, and as he was not likely to go on any other long adventures, Bag End seemed secure. Life went on and Bilbo's age and waistline grew.
Several years later, as Bilbo approached 80 years old, a tragedy struck the Baggins family. His second cousin Drogo and Drogo's wife Primula (coincindentally Bilbo's first cousin) were drowned in a boating accident on the Brandywine River. They had been living with Primula's family at Brandy Hall with their young son Frodo who was left orphaned by the terrible event. He was only 12 years old.
Hobbits are very family-oriented creatures. Bilbo certainly must have travelled to Buckland to attend the funeral services for the his unfortunate cousins. Being so closely related to the two, Bilbo had probably either been to their home before or had them to Bag End as guests. It's quite likely that he and Frodo knew one another. But there at the funeral is when Bilbo first began to think of the welfare of Frodo.
The younger Baggins was effectively orphaned among his Brandybuck relatives. Bilbo may have then already had a thought of bringing Frodo to Hobbiton, but the settings at Brandy Hall were much more conducive to the uprbringing of a young hobbit than Bag End could be. Bilbo knew that he had no experience at child-raising, so instead he most likely decided to become Frodo's friend and benefactor.
Over a period of 10 years he and Frodo developed a great friendship. Frodo was often back and forth between Buckland and Hobbiton (occasionally stopping in the Marish to raid Maggot's Farm for mushrooms). Bilbo often allowed younger relatives and their friends to visit Bag End, and it was during these years that Frodo met Pippen and Merry (and don't forget Sam).
Though the notion to bring Frodo to Hobbiton had first came to him when Drogo and Primula had died, Bilbo had never had the idea to adopt Frodo as an heir. But years rolled by and he began to feel older (and 'stretched'). It had been nearly 40 years since his return from the East, and all that time he had been mostly concerned with living comfortably in his cozy home. Now his mind turned again to adventure. He thought of the dwarves living far off at the Lonely Mountain and of Elrond in Rivendell. And he wished to see them again.
A glimmer of a plan began to formulate in Bilbo's mind. The thought of the Sackville-Bagginses living in Bag End (and eating with his silver spoons) made him shudder. He remembered how upset he had been when they had tried to move in years ago. So, with the S-Bs in mind and a faint idea of a future journey, Bilbo made a decision. He would adopt Frodo as his heir and with a stroke of a pen (actually many, many penstrokes and witnesses, too) would insure that Bag End remained in Baggins hands.
The future of Bag End seemed secure.
The Sackville-Bagginses were furious of course, and became even nastier than ever to Bilbo (and Frodo). But Bilbo did not care. Now that he didn't have to worry about Bag End he could make plans for his last big adventure. But days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. 12 years passed before Bilbo was finally ready to leave. By then he had grown even more fond of Frodo and even more sure that he was a capable successor.
On the evening of his 111th birthday Bilbo threw a big Party. And the rest is history.