Contact concerning Sarah Jacob

I have had another one of those occasions  when additional information about one of the stories I have covered appears  suddenly, as if from nowhere. This time it is additional background information  about Sarah Jacob, the tragic story which features in Volume One about the  little girl who starved to death surrounded by nurses who were there to prove  that she had not been kept alive by angels and fairies as she claimed. It was a  notorious case in Victorian England – Charles Dickens himself wrote about her. In  fact the case of Sarah Jacob is one of the first detailed studies of the  condition anorexia nervosa.
One of the key figures in the case was  Reverend Evan Jones the local vicar  who  wrote  a letter to a Carmarthen based  newspaper called The Welshman in  February 1869. The story was picked up by The  Times in London. You can imagine the reaction to a story of a girl on a  farm near Llandyssul who was surviving apparently without eating or drinking.  Such claims by a clergyman brought the whole weight of the medical establishment  down to West Wales to prove him wrong, which they did of course, but at the  cost of Sarah’s life.
Welsh Country Magazine passed on to me a  message they had received from David Gorman a descendant of Evan Jones looking  for further information, along with a copy of his work.
His is an excellent and detailed biography of the Reverend Evan Jones, quoting  at length from the  letter he sent to the  paper  which set off the whole  distressing chain of events.
Allow me to invite the attention of  your readers to a most extraordinary case. Sarah Jacob, a little girl of 12  years of age, and daughter of Mr Evan Jacob, Lletherneuadd, in this parish, has  not partaken of a single grain of any kind of food whatever during the last  sixteen months. She did occasionally swallow a few drops of water during the  first few months of this period; but now she does not even do that. She still  looks pretty well in the face and continues in possession of all her mental  faculties. She is in this, and several other respects, a wonderful little girl.
Medical men persist in saying that the  thing is quite impossible, but all the nearest neighbours, who are thoroughly  acquainted with the circumstances of the case, entertain no doubt whatever on  the subject, and I am myself of the same opinion.
Would it not be worth their while for  medical men to make an investigation into the nature of this strange case? Mr  Evan Jacob (Sarah’s  father) would  readily admit into his house any respectable person, who might be anxious to watch  it and to see for himself.
After this everything would go horribly  wrong.
I have always felt very sorry for Evan  Jones. Vulnerable after the death of his young wife, he was drawn to the story  of Sarah and wrote about her in innocence and wonder -a girl who seemed to  thrive without eating or drinking. The story however was seized upon and used  by others.
David Gorman writes
the events at Llanfihangel ar  Arth leading up to the death of Sarah Jacob in December 1869, whilst not  appearing to affect his career and standing within the Church of Wales, cast a  shadow over him from which, it would appear, he never fully recovered...
I am  sure that this is the case. His innocent trust and belief were cruelly  destroyed by the medical establishment, anxious to prove the superiority of  science over superstition. But to do so meant that a twelve year old girl had  to starve to death.
I am very grateful that Dave Gorman has been able to share with us information which adds to the understanding that we have of such awful events.
You can find the story of Sarah Jacob on page 108 of Stories in Welsh Stone

2 Comments

  1. Hello,

    Are you still serving customers during the pandemic?

    Thanks for your time today, stay well and stay safe.

    John Einarson

    1. Good evening. Yes, we are still selling books and we have copies of all my titles available. No problems with either hygiene or delivery
      Best wishes
      Geoff

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