Old William Ferny, also known as or Bill Ferny the Elder, was a man of Breeland and father to Bill Ferny.

Mistreated by his family and forced to steal for a living, William Ferny became a small-time thief in Combe, before he was apprehended by the local shirrif and sentenced to the gallows for his crimes. During a riot, Ferny evaded his captors with the help of the "Squint", an ill-favoured Dunlending outcast.

Burning with vengeace against the folk among which he had been raised and who had wronged him, William Ferny took the name of "Bill" and formed a partnership with the "Squint". Together they turned Breeland into their treasure box: ambushing travellers on the roads, murdering them and claiming their belongings as their own.

Their heinous acts drew the attention of a mysterious figure lurking in the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Upon their return from a night incursion upon the influential Butterbur family, Bill Ferny and the "Squint" were given a contract sent through a Crebain messenger. Enticed by the promises of riches should they do as commanded, the duo went on the hunt for Thorin II Oakenshield, a Dwarf prince who was travelling through Breeland. On their way to the town of Bree, Bill Ferny and the "Squint" stumbled upon Gandalf the Grey, whom they mistook for a tramp. The wizard in turn made them regret their attempt at ill-treatment and got his hands in the brawl on the contract. Eager to gain the reward promised for Thorin's demise, Bill Ferny recommended they stay at the Prancing Pony, an inn where most travellers were known to rest at. Indeed, Thorin Oakenshield came at Butterbur's place and ordered himself food, only to get a glimpse at his stalker. As Ferny rose from the table, Gandalf unexpectedly showed up. After listening for a while to the conversation between Oakenshield and the Wizard, the dismayed Ferny and his associate, "Squint", left the inn. On the road they were met yet again by the Crebain, to whom they told what they had overhead. Ferny and the "Squint" would later be sent to try and follow Gandalf, the messenger promising they would be handsomely paid, but upon fearing they arose suspicion they abandoned their pursuit. Ultimately, Bill found this service to an unknown employer, the latter's use of birds, the death warrants for previous crimes and being on the run all the time too much to bear and he resolved to retire "somewhere pleasant" and do "some farming".

Settling in the village of Bree, Old William Ferny married Freda Ferny and fathered a son, Bill Ferny the Younger. However, the brigand-turned-townsman got himself in a fight with some former associates resulting in his death. His son, Bill Ferny, would soon follow in his footsteps, falling into bad company with the likes of well-known rogues such as the "Squint", Euog and Doeth, leading to him becoming subservient to ill-intentioned folk as well as in league with the Dark Lord Sauron - the mysterious figure who had employed Old William Ferny years before.


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