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The Conjuror And The Cattle


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

R. H., a farmer in Llansilin parish, who lost several head of cattle,
sent or went to Shon Gyfarwydd, who lived in Llanbrynmair, a well-known
conjuror, for information concerning their death, and for a charm against
further loss. Both were obtained, and the charm worked so well that the
grateful farmer sent a letter to Shon acknowledging the benefit he had
derived from him.

This Shon was a great terror to thieves, for he was able to spot them and
mark them in such a way that they were known to be culprits. I am
indebted to Mr. Jones, Rector of Bylchau, near Denbigh, for the three
following stories, in which the very dread of being marked by Shon was
sufficient to make the thieves restore the stolen property.

Stolen property discovered through fear of applying to the Llanbrynmair

Richard Thomas, Post Office, Llangadfan, lost a coat and waistcoat, and
he suspected a certain man of having stolen them. One day this man came
to the shop, and Thomas saw him there, and, speaking to his wife from the
kitchen in a loud voice, so as to be heard by his customer in the shop,
he said that he wanted the loan of a horse to go to Llanbrynmair.
Llanbrynmair was, as we know, the conjuror's place of abode. Thomas,
however, did not leave his house, nor did he intend doing so, but that
very night the stolen property was returned, and it was found the next
morning on the door sill.

Reclaiming stolen property through fear of the Conjuror.

A mason engaged in the restoration of Garthbeibio Church placed a trowel
for safety underneath a stone, but by morning it was gone. Casually in
the evening he informed his fellow workmen that he had lost his trowel,
and that someone must have stolen it, but that he was determined to find
out the thief by taking a journey to Llanbrynmair. He never went, but
the ruse was successful, for the next morning he found, as he suspected
would be the case, the trowel underneath the very stone where he had
himself placed it.

Another similar Tale.

Thirty pounds were stolen from Glan-yr-afon, Garthbeibio. The owner made
known to his household that he intended going to Shon the conjuror, to
ascertain who had taken his money, but the next day the money was
discovered, being restored, as was believed, by the thief the night

These stories show that the ignorant and superstitious were influenced
through fear, to restore what they had wrongfully appropriated, and their
faith in the conjuror's power thus resulted, in some degree, in good to
the community. The Dyn Hyspys was feared where no one else was feared,
and in this way the supposed conjuror was not altogether an unimportant
nor unnecessary member of society. At a time, particularly when people
are in a low state of civilization, or when they still cling to the pagan
faith of their forefathers, transmitted to them from remote ages, then
something can be procured for the good of a benighted people even through
the medium of the Gwr Cyfarwydd.

Events occurred occasionally by a strange coincidence through which the
fame of the Dyn Hyspys became greatly increased. An event of this kind
is related by Mr. Edward Hamer. He states that:--

Two respectable farmers, living in the upper Vale of the Severn (Cwm
Glyn Hafren), and standing in relationship to each other of uncle and
nephew, a few years ago purchased each a pig of the same litter, from
another farmer. When bought, both animals were, to all appearance,
in excellent health and condition, and for a short time after their
removal to their new homes both continued to improve daily. It was
not long, however, before both were taken ill very suddenly. As
there appeared something very strange in the behaviour of his animal,
the nephew firmly believed that he was 'witched,' and acting upon
this belief, set out for the neighbouring conjuror. Having received
certain injunctions from the 'wise man,' he returned home, carried
them out, and had the satisfaction of witnessing the gradual recovery
of his pig. The uncle paid no attention to the persuasions and even
entreaties of his nephew; he would not believe that his pig was
'witched,' and refused to consult the conjuror. The pig died after
an illness of three weeks; and many thought the owner deserved
little sympathy for manifesting so much obstinacy and scepticism.
These events occurred in the spring of the year 1870, and were much
talked of at the time.--Montgomeryshire Collections, vol. x., p.

Conjurors retained their repute by much knavery and collusion with

Tales are not wanted that expose their impostures. The Rev. Meredith
Hamer, late of Berse, told me of the following exposure of a conjuror. I
know not where the event occurred, but it is a typical case.

Next: A Conjuror's Collusion Exposed

Previous: A Conjuror And Robbers

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