Tolkien Gateway

Bill Ferny

The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Bill Ferny.jpg
Bill Ferny
Biographical Information
BirthLate Third Age
Physical Description
SteedBill the Pony
GalleryImages of Bill Ferny

Bill Ferny was a man of Bree.


[edit] History

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

Ferny was at the Prancing Pony on September 29th when his colleague, a Squint-eyed Southerner joined him. The two of them saw "Mr. Underhill" (Frodo Baggins) vanish into thin air. They reported the information to the Nazgûl, and the Ringwraiths came to attack that night.[1]

After the Ringwraiths raided The Prancing Pony, Bill 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.[2]

The Squint-eyed Southerner was spotted inside Bill Ferny's house when the company set out to Weathertop.[3]

When trouble came up the Greenway from the South, Bill Ferny and several others opened the gates to them, and left with them after a short battle.[4] He joined Sharkey, and guarded the gate at the Brandywine Bridge. His command over the local Shirriffs was hard, but he was no match for the four Hobbits who tried to break in. He fled into the night, but not after his old pony had kicked him in the back.[5]

[edit] Etymology

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.[6] Ferny is a reference to the plant, as many surnames of Bree were botanical in nature.[7]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

[edit] Radio series

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

Graham Faulkner provided the voice of Bill Ferny.

[edit] Films

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

A character credited as "Bill Ferny, Sr." appears in the prologue in Bree. Along with 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). 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, Bill and Squint get up and leave the inn.

[edit] Video games

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. Afterward, he confronts Strider in the streets, and is killed.

[edit] Card games

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.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "Concerning Gandalf, Saruman, and the Shire"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 757