Bill Ferny was a resident of the town of Bree, described as a “swarthy, sneering fellow” with “heavy black brows, and dark scornful eyes.” He did not have a very good reputation, being described as the sort of person who would “sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.” He was known acquaintances with Harry, one of Bree’s gatekeepers, as well as a man from the south who was said to look “more than half like a goblin.”
Bill Ferny is an antagonist throughout the Bree-lands quests, although his presence is mostly behind-the-scenes. He acts as an agent of Sharkey, building up the forces of the brigands in the area and attempting to forge an alliance with a local tribe of orcs. As part of his efforts he was personally involved in extorting payment from Adso Haybank, and he also took part in an assault on the Prancing Pony, as witnessed in the Skirmish Tutorial. While unconnected to his other mischief, he was further responsible for selling a poor quality shield at an exorbitant price to Nef, a dwarf Guardian currently in Forochel.
During the visit of Frodo & Company to Bree, Ferny and his companions acted as agents of the Black Riders. Aside from passing on information, it is also heavily implied that they assaulted the bedrooms the hobbits would have been staying in and drove off most of the horses stabled at the Prancing Pony. Bill Ferny was the former owner of Bill the Pony, and sold him to the company for three times his worth as a method of making more of a profit from his mischief. He kept track of Frodo & Co. as they departed Bree, but received a broken nose courtesy of Sam Gamgee for his troubles.
Aside from acting as an agent of the brigands during an assault on Bree, Ferny was appointed the Big Man in charge of the Brandywine Bridge gate. He attempted to prevent the entrance of Frodo & Co., but backed off when he realised they were armed. After turning over the keys to the gate (by throwing them at Merry’s head), he fled, but not before being kicked by Bill the Pony.