Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JACOB , SARAH ( 1857 - 1869 ), the fasting girl .

Born 12 May 1857 , third daughter of Evan and Hannah Jacob , Llether-neuadd-uchaf , Llanfihangel Iorath, Carms. In Feb. 1867 , during an illness, she became unconscious and did not recover for a whole month, whereupon she refused all but a little milk food. By 10 Oct. 1867 it was stated that she had ceased to eat and drink, and it was claimed that she lived thus until 17 Dec. 1869 , a total of 113 weeks — when she died. News of her fasting spread far and wide, and soon became a topic of discussion among eminent doctors , while visitors came to Llether-neuadd-uchaf from all parts of England and Wales , and usually presented her with gifts of flowers, books, and money. After much controversy in the press (including The Lancet ) a staff of trained nursing-sisters from Guy's Hospital , London , was set to watch the case. A little over a week after their arrival the girl died. Her parents were accused of causing her death by not feeding her , and after trial both were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.


  • W. M. Wilkinson , The Cases of the Welsh Fasting Girl (London, 1870) (London, 1870 );
  • Robert Fowler, M.D. , A Complete History of the Case of the Welsh Fasting-Girl (Sara Jacob) with Comments thereon and Observations on Death from Starvation (London, 1871) (London, 1871 );
  • D. Jones , The Welsh Fasting Girl being a complete history of the remarkable case of Sarah Jacob, as revealed by authentic sources of information of absorbing general, medical and legal interest (London, Pencader, 1904) (Pencader, 1904 ).


Dr David Jenkins, C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt., (1912-2002), Penrhyn-coch, Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959