The Conjuror And The Cattle


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 t
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.