At the hands of the Great Unknown (possibly)
- "When the time comes, I believe Count Olaf just might leave you to me. So if I were you, I’d start acting a little nicer. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to fetch your poor orphan siblings."
- —Fernald to Klaus Baudelaire
A Daily Punctilio article written by Jacques Snicket claims his name is Fernald Widdershins, although Fernald claims Widdershins is not his surname and claims that Captain Widdershins is not his father. However, there is a high chance Widdershins is his birth surname which he rejected, and that Captain Widdershins is his real father.
Before The Schism, Fernald studied poetry with Captain Widdershins. Captain Widdershins claims to be the stepfather of Fernald and Fiona, although it is possible he is lying and that he is their biological father. Regardless, Fernald does not use the surname Widdershins.
According to his sister Fiona, he always carried a deck of cards to prevent boredom, and he even created a game called "Fernald's Folly" that the siblings played together whenever they had a long wait.
Fernald was a Volunteer, but he had a genuine dislike of Captain Widdershins and became so fed up with his bossy ways and constant "Aye!"s, that he left the Fire-Fighting Side of V.F.D. to join Count Olaf's Theater Troupe.
According to a Daily Punctilio article entitled "Verifying Fernald's Defection," written by Jacques Snicket, Fernald was responsible for burning down Anwhistle Aquatics, and possibly for the murder of Gregor Anwhistle. While working with Olaf, he also burned down Caligari Carnival.
How he lost his hands is not known.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In The Bad Beginning, he is sent by Olaf to retrieve the Baudelaires when they visit Justice Strauss' house. He frightens Klaus by telling him, "The only reason Count Olaf hasn’t torn you limb from limb is that he hasn’t gotten hold of your money. He allows you to live while he works out his plans. But ask yourself this, you little bookworm: What reason will he have to keep you alive after he has your money? What do you think will happen to you then?" Later, he captures Violet Baudelaire at the tower when she attempts to rescue Sunny.
In The Reptile Room, Fernald poses as Dr. O. Lucafont who does an autopsy on Montgomery Montgomery at the time when Count Olaf was posing as Stephano. Fernald concealed his hook-hands with fake hands. Both men get away when their identities are exposed.
In The Wide Window, Fernald poses as a ferryman.
In The Carnivorous Carnival, Fernald was mistaken for a freak twice: the first time in the House of Freaks and the second time during the lion show. Apparently, Fernald's hooks make him look "freakish," and the man with pimples all over his chin said the mistake would not have been made if Fernald bought a pair of realistic hands.
In The Grim Grotto, Fernald shows a much nicer side around the Baudelaires, and his villainy is questioned, forcing the Baudelaires to contemplate what is "good", "evil", "right" and "wrong". They begin to view Fernald as a physically disabled human being who has been through a lot of misfortunes and hardships in his life, rather than a "evil bad guy with scary hooks for hands."
- "People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict. Look at yourselves, Baudelaires. Do you really think we're so different? When those eagles carried me away from the mountains in that net, I saw the ruins of that fire in the hinterlands – a fire we started together. You've burned things down, and so have I. You joined the crew of the Queequeg, and I joined the crew of the Carmelita. Our captains are both volatile people, and we're both trying to get to the Hotel Denouement before Thursday. The only difference between us is the portraits on our uniforms."
- —Fernald to the Baudelaires
Fernald argues that Count Olaf is not entirely evil. Fernald convinces his sister Fiona to join Count Olaf. Count Olaf also treats Fiona harshly, meaning Count Olaf possibly has some beef with the Widdershins.
In The Penultimate Peril, Count Olaf mentions, "You can't rely on associates. More comrades have failed me than I can count. Why, Hooky and Fiona double-crossed me just yesterday, and let you brats escape! Then they double-crossed me again and stole my submarine!"
Behind the scenes
- In the film, he is portrayed by Jamie Harris.
- In the video game, he is voiced by Jay Gordon.
- In the TV series, he is portrayed by Usman Ally.
- There is a theory that Mrs. Widdershins and Miranda Caliban are the same, meaning Friday would be Fernald's sister or half-sister. Fiona/Friday/Fernald are all F-names.
- He is the last remaining original member of Count Olaf's troupe.
- The Bad Beginning
- The Reptile Room
- The Wide Window (Mentioned only)
- The Miserable Mill (Mentioned only)
- The Ersatz Elevator
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Slippery Slope
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril (Mentioned only)
- The End (Mentioned only)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (film)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)