Ebenezer is the closest thing to a "villain" in Kidnapped, although he is visible on for a few chapters. Though younger than David's father, he looks much older. Though rich, he is so miserly that he allows the House of Shaws to deteriorate into squalor. He is so greedy, he schemes to have his nephew kidnapped or killed so that his fortune, and his peace of mind, can be maintained. After the agreement with David's father Alexander, where Alexander married David's mother and Ebenezer kept the House of Shaws, Alexander left the House. His sudden disappearance led to rumors that Ebenezer had killed him, and made the once-popular Ebenezer an outcast in the community. The longer he lives alone, the more wretched Ebenezer becomes, and presumably the more hatred he harbors for his absent brother. He probably also grew to hate himself somewhat, for causing his brother's banishment. All of this creates the tortured soul that is Ebenezer Balfour.

It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for Ebenezer. He is such an old, beaten man—and he is so soundly defeated at the end of the novel—that there is a note of tragedy in the character. Unfortunately, he never does anything to redeem himself, and his suffering must go on for the foreseeable future.