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