Bill Ferny

From Tolkien Gateway
Bill Ferny
Man of Bree
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Bill Ferny.jpg
Bill Ferny from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Biographical Information
PositionChief's Big Man
AffiliationBree-landers, Eye of Sauron, White Hand, Chief's Men
BirthLate Third Age
Physical Description
SteedBill the Pony
GalleryImages of Bill Ferny

Bill Ferny was a man of Bree, known to be an associate of the Nazgûl and later, a ruffian of the Chief's Men.

Description[edit | edit source]

Descriptions of Ferny's appearance are limited to his being a "swarthy Bree-lander"[1] or a "sneery swarthy fellow."[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Bill Ferny lived in the last house of Bree, and was an opportunistic backstabber who was little liked by respectable folk of the town. He also served as a spy for the Black Riders, and relayed information about Shire-hobbits to them.

On September 29th of 3018, Ferny and his associate were at The Prancing Pony when the two of them saw Mr. Underhill vanish into thin air. They reported the information to the Black Riders.[3]

After reporting to the Black Riders, Ferny and his allies went to the inn's stables and set all mounts loose. There was only one pony left in all of Bree: Bill's mistreated one. He sold him for twelve silver pennies to Strider and the Hobbits. As a parting gift, Samwise Gamgee threw an apple at his head.[4]

Ferny's associate was spotted inside his house when the company set out to Weathertop.[5]

After the Ruffians among the Southerners were kicked out of Bree, it was believed by Barliman Butterbur that Bill Ferny and Harry Goatleaf opened the gates to let them in since the two of them sided with Ruffians in the battle that followed.[6] After fleeing Bree with the Ruffians, he threw in his lot with the Men serving Lotho Sackville-Baggins in the Shire. He guarded the outer gate at the Brandywine Bridge as the Chief's Big Man and his command over the local Shirriffs was hard. When the four Travellers returned to the Shire, he attempted to threaten them, but was threatened by Meriadoc Brandybuck in turn, and as such he fled into the night after giving him the gate key, though not until after his old pony had kicked him in his back. He was never heard of again.[7]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Bill is a name Tolkien used to represent the Westron name Bil, which was a short for names as Arambil, Bildad and Bilcuzal, all of unknown meaning.[8] Ferny is a reference to the plant, as many surnames of Bree were botanical in nature.[9]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In an earlier draft of The Scouring of the Shire, it is Frodo who threatens Ferny rather than Merry. Later, Sam compares Ted Sandyman to Ferny.[10]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Bill Ferny in adaptations

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Ring:

Graham Faulkner provided the voice of Bill Ferny.

2001-2007: The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game:

One of the men seen in Bree in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is identified as Bill Ferny.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

Bill is one of the guests at the Prancing Pony, who doesn't want to be disturbed by Hobbits. Afterwards, he confronts Strider in the streets, and is killed.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bill Ferny is encountered at several points in the game, spreading mischief throughout Bree-land. At one points he attempts to forge an alliance between Sharkey's Men and a band of Orcs from Angmar that have been cut off, but that arrangement falls through due to intervention of the Dunedain Rangers.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

A character credited as "Bill Ferny Sr." appears in the prologue in Bree. Along with him associate, another character credited as "Squint" (loosely based on the squint-eyed southerner), Ferny, Sr. has seemingly tracked Thorin to the Prancing Pony (presumably to collect on the bounty put out on Thorin's head by Azog). The two Men are preparing to confront Thorin when Gandalf goes over and sits and starts talking with the Dwarf. When it becomes apparent the Wizard is not going anywhere, the two Men get up and leave the inn.