In 1807 David Evans, son of James Evans, was born, perhaps here. James Evans lived here from 1823-50. On March 26th 1823 Mary Evans died aged 23. She was the only daughter of James & Margaret Evans. On 1st October 1830 Margaret Evans of Penybanc wrote her will. She referred to her husband James Evans; late brother David Williams of Netpool; Thomas Evans, son; and David Evans, son. She left shares in several ships – the brig ‘Jane’; sloop ‘Hibernia’, sloop ‘Fanny’; brig ‘Fame’; sloop ‘Phoenix’; sloop ‘Hopewell’; and sloop ‘William Skerme’. On 11th April 1831 Margaret Evans, wife of James Evans, died aged 61. In 1835-86 David Evans lived here. In 1835 James Evans, son of David & Margaret Evans, was born. In 1836 Margaret Evans, daughter of David & Margaret Evans, was born. In 1838 Daniel Evans, son of David & Margaret Evans, was born. He lived here until his death in 1919. In 1841 the following persons lived here: James Evans, 60; David Evans, 35, his son, shipwright; Margaret Evans, 40, daughter-in-law; James Evans, 6, grandson; Margaret Evans, 5, grand-daughter; and Daniel Evans, 3, grandson. In 1843 John Evans, son of David & Margaret Evans, was born. He lived here until his death in 1913. In 1847 Penybanc was owned by Rev. Robert Miles, owner of the Priory estate, and was occupied by David Evans with 24 acres. On March 6th 1850 James Evans died aged 76.
In 1851 the occupiers were David Evans, 44, farmer of 24 acres; Margaret Evans, 51, his wife; their sons – James Evans, 16; Daniel Evans, 13; and John Evans, 9; and their daughter – Margaret Evans, 15. In 1861 the following persons lived here: David Evans, 56; Margaret Evans, 61, his wife; James Evans, 26, their son; Margaret Evans, 25, daughter; Daniel Evans, 23, son; and John Evans, 19, son. In 1871 the following persons lived here: David Evans, 63; Margaret Evans, 70, his wife; James Evans, 35, their son; Margaret Evans, 34, daughter; Daniel Evans, 32, son; and John Evans, 22, son. On 14th September 1877 Messrs. Evans of Penybanc launched the smack ‘Margaret’ they had built at Nantyferwig. On October 20th 1880 Margaret Evans, wife of David Evans, died aged 79. In 1881 the following persons lived here: David Evans, 72, ship’s carpenter; James Evans, 44, his son, fisherman; Margaret Evans, 43, daughter, dairy-maid; Daniel Evans, 41, ship’s carpenter; and John Evans, 37, farmer. In 1883 David, Margaret, James, John and Daniel Evans lived here. In 1886 John Evans married the maid, Mary Evans. On August 26th 1886 David Evans died aged 79.
In 1891 the following persons lived here: John Evans, 46; Daniel Evans, 50, his brother; and Mary Evans, 25, his wife, servant. In 1892 David Rees Evans was born – the son of John & Mary Evans. John and Daniel Evans were the farmers here in 1895-1913. In 1896 Margaret Mary Evans was born – the daughter of John & Mary Evans. Penybanc was withdrawn from the sale of the Priory estate on July 31st 1897. It was sold in August 1897 with 25 acres to Daniel and John Evans, tenants, for £470.
In 1901 the following persons lived at the 4 room property: Daniel Evans, 62; John Evans, 58, his brother; Mary Evans, 34, John’s wife (b. Mwnt); David Rees Evans, 8, their son; John Evans, 6, son; and Margaret Mary Evans, 4, daughter. The children were Welsh-speaking and the adults bilingual, all bar Mary Evans were born in Cardigan. In 1902 Ellen Evans was born – the daughter of John & Mary Evans. In 1904 David Rees Evans and John Evans became pupils at Ferwig School. By September 1906 the brothers Daniel and John Evans were allegedly offering a successful herbal remedy for skin cancer. The pair were both noted musicians and Deacons of Cardigan’s Tabernacle C M Chapel, Pendre. That year Dr. Hugh Riddle M. D. investigated them on behalf of the Daily Mail. He noted that:
“…For more than twenty years these humble practitioners have been treating all kinds of diseases with ointments and salves made entirely of herbs, but only lately has their fame spread abroad. They originally used their remedies as a side issue only, but for some years now, they have been kept busy visiting their patients.
The pathology of cancer interests them little. They believe that they can demonstrate that metastases in neighbouring glands are not separate growths originating from cancer cells brought to the glands through the lymphatics from the original growth, but that these secondary involvements are extensions of the roots of the primary growth by direct continuity. Their method is to apply a herbal preparation to the cancer, which according to them causes the roots on all sides to withdraw into the original growth which then drops off. After this the skin heals over the wound. They claim that they have never turned cases away, and that they have had only one or two failures in many years. Patients have come to them from all over Wales and Scotland, and a few from the London hospitals
The brothers live unpretentiously, about two miles from Cardigan and every morning walk into town with the preparation of their remedy. They keep no system of books, and have no fixed charges. They have a small surgery where there are a few beds for their worst cases, and where some of the patients are able to come to see them. Here also are a collection of specimens in alcohol. At present there are about 45 persons in Cardigan under treatment – cases of lupus, rodent ulcer, epithelioma, and true scirrhus of the breast.
Everywhere there seems to be the same utmost confidence in these simple physicians. Far from being advertising quacks, with a desire for notoriety, they are deeply religious men and commence every treatment by praying for success, and urging their patients also to put their trust in God, rather than in themselves for a cure...”
The brothers were well-renowned by February 1907 and the writer W. T. Stead took a great interest in the case. On 16th February 1907 the following item appeared in the ‘Weekly Mail‘:
“…NEW CANCER CURE. FAME ACHIEVED BY TWO CARDIGAN FARMERS. For some time past considerable interest has been excited over numerous alleged cures of cancer and other diseases carried out by the use of herbs only by Messrs. John and Daniel Evans, small farmers, residing at Penbank, in the parish of Verwig, near Cardigan. Messrs. Evans are by trade ship carpenters, and are almost self-taught, although their father was a shipwright and owner of sailing trawlers, which the brothers assisted in working, but they subsequently settled down to farming. Brought up in the country, they studied the nature of herbs, gaining Proficiency that they soon became noted in their immediate locality for treatment of sores, &c. As time went on they attended graver cases of disease, and, it is stated, with marked success, until about twenty years ago they gave their attention more especially to external cancer, and their treatment was so highly thought of that by degrees their fame was spread, until at the present time patients come to them from all parts of Wales and from London and other large centres in England. They have received repeated offers to treat patients at their own homes in London, Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, &c., but they refuse all such offers, as their time is fully occupied at Cardigan, where the number of patients who visit them is very considerable.
In reply to a question if they ever received patients from hospitals their reply was, “Yes, several: even from the London, Cardiff, and Swansea hospitals,” and mention was made of one very bad case now under their treatment from the Cardiff Hospital. The patient had had operations on her right breast, under the arm. She left for her home after the operation, and returned to Cardiff again in August. She was then told that her arm would have to be amputated, but to this she would not consent, preferring to return home to die. After leaving the hospital she accidentally met a Mrs. Jenkins, residing at North-road. Cardigan, who was attending the hospital with her child, and it was she who told the sufferer of the Messrs. Evans. About a fortnight afterwards the patient came to Cardigan, where she has been under treatment ever since, and she has so far recovered that she will, it is anticipated, leave Cardigan for her home, cured, in a fortnight.
Another case quoted was that of a man from a London hospital who had been treated for cancer, and had been under the Rontgen rays for 10 months, with no result. He came to Cardigan, and a complete cure is declared to have been effected, and at his recommendation another patient, a milk walk owner in London, 80 years of age, who had had cancer for fifteen years and been repeatedly treated at a London hospital, is now under treatment at Cardigan, and, although he has lost a portion of his gums, one lip, and a part of his nose, the herbalists are sanguine of a successful issue. Cases such as this could be largely quoted, and the number is increasing, there being at least 40 patients under treatment at Cardigan from various parts of the country at the present time. If a case is too far gone to be considered hopeless the patient is at once informed, so that no false hopes may be raised.
Patients arrive almost daily. The Messrs. Evans claim to have cured some hundreds of patients. Seldom are external cases refused, and only one or two have so far, it is stated, been failures. Emboldened by their success. they have turned, attention to internal cancer, and, it is said, so far, with success. Asked as to the truth of a report that they ad been offered £20,000 for their secret, the query was met with a smile, and the reply was an acknowledgement that they had been offered very large sums indeed, but they would rather not name them. No payment is charged; they leave themselves in the hands of their patients for remuneration according to their status in society, and the rich and the poor receive the same treatment. The brothers have already passed the stage of middle life. One is married and the other a bachelor. One thing that striked the interviewer is the modest, humble demeanour of the men. I asked as to what they personally thought of the excitement they were creating by their cures, the answer was, Our poor names and our poor endeavours, we do not see them worthy of mention. The source of the whole secret and success is through the great mercy of the Lord Almighty God. In the past He has been very merciful with us and to the poor sufferers under our hands. He led us sufferers under our hands. He led us through the deep waters and through many cloudy days, and through many difficulties Yes, He delivered us many times from the lion’s teeth, and is doing the same now, and to Him only we have to give our whole thanks and glory now and for ever.” The first thing they do in every case is to pray for a successful issue, and they impress upon their patients to place their faith in the Almighty…”
On 16th March 1907 the following appeared in the ‘Weekly Mail‘:
“…CARDIGAN CANCER CURE. INTERESTING OFFER BY MR. W. T. STEAD. I sent down a special commissioner last month to report upon the alleged cures of external cancer effected by two Welshmen, D. and J. Evans, of Penbank, Cardigan (writes Mr. W. T. Stead in this month’s Review of Reviews”). He reported on his return to town that the cures appear to be genuine, and that there is at least a prima facie case for a crucial test. The Cancer Research Committee will have nothing to do with the matter, because the Messrs. Evans refuse, at present, to reveal the secret of the preparation which they use. This surely is to put the cart before the horse. The first thing to ascertain is whether cancer can be cured; after that is ascertained, they can proceed to investigate how it is done. Supposing an angel came from heaven with an infallible specific to heal instantaneously every case of cancer submitted for treatment, the Cancer Research Committee would refuse to recognise the sudden disappearance of cancer from the maladies of mankind unless they were informed of the precise ingredients of the angelic specific. From which it would seem that cancer researchers are almost as much blind-man-buffers as the psychic researchers, who have done so much to make research a byword for the scoffer. After recounting his interview with the brothers Evans and their description of their treatment, Mr. Stead’s representative adds:— The Evanses are so busy that they hardly have time for meals. They frequently do without their midday meal, and work far into the night—returning to their farm from their surgery sometimes between two and three a. m. They are deeply religious and extremely modest men, and are intensely anxious to retain the privilege of treating “those poor fellows,” as they call them, who may seek their help at Cardigan. If any cases of external cancer are known to any of our readers (adds Mr. Stead), which are certified as being unmistakable cases of genuine cancer and are declared to be incurable by the Cancer Hospital or by properly qualified medical men, I think steps ought to be taken to subject the Cardigan cancer cure to a public test. Cardigan is not exactly a paradise as a health resort. Accommodation for invalids is scanty and not very excellent in quality. The treatment is painful. It will last for weeks. But if three or four of these unmistakable duly certified cases of inoperable external cancer can be obtained, and, if the sufferers and their relatives are willing to submit to the ordeal, I am willing to make arrangements with the Evans brothers for treating them in Cardigan, on the sole condition that they are willing to have the result of the experiment published with full particulars for the satisfaction of the public No one need communicate with me who is suffering from interna1 cancer, or whose general health is in so low a state as to render travelling at all dangerous to him. Neither do I wish to make the experiment with cases which have already been operated upon. I should like to have some cases which are regarded by the profession as unfit for operation, and, therefore, as hopelessly doomed. And in every case medical certificates, signed by at least two medical men of good standing as to its being a case of genuine cancer, must be produced to ensure us in advance against the usual cry after a cure has been affected – that it wasn’t really a cancer after all…”
“…CARDIGAN CANCER CURE. FRESH PATIENTS ARRIVING BY NEARLY EVERY TRAIN. The cancer cures of the Cardigan herbalists (the Messrs. Evans) are still the theme of conversation in the district, and patients are pouring in from all parts of the United Kingdom. It is calculated that about 170 patients are under their care for all kinds of cancerous and skin diseases, and yet fresh arrivals come by almost every train, taxing the lodging capabilities of the town to the utmost. All the patients profess to be benefited by the treatment, one, who arrived in an almost incurable state owing to the partial loss of his tongue, declaring that he can now swallow bread, a thing he had not done for some time past. Daily instances come to light of cure and relief, and the prestige of the “Penbank boys” is still in the ascendant. Last week Mr. Stead’s representative in London stated that if suitable rooms can be found, three patients from London hospitals suffering from cancer, and pronounced to be incurable, will be sent down for treatment…”
On 13th April 1907 the following appeared in the ‘Weekly Mail‘:
“…CARDIGAN CANCER CURE. THE TOWN ALMOST TURNED INTO A HOSPITAL. The patients of the Brothers Evans, of Pen bank, are increasing daily. Cardigan is almost turned into a general hospital, but what the effect will be in the way of holiday visitors remains to be proved. There is no gainsaying the fact that the herbalists are, at any rate ameliorating the sufferings of their patients, and all are united in their praise At the present time they have under their care the wife of Mr. Addison, A J. P. for Cumberland, who had practically been given up by the medical profession. So oppressed was she by the disease of cancer that she breathed with difficulty. She has been in Cardigan only a fortnight, yet her breathing is now free. Although not a medical man, Mr. Addison is himself a descendant of a line of noted members of the medical Profession, including the late Dr. Thomas Addison, M.D., F.R.C.P. the discoverer of Addison’s disease. Cancer patients are not the only ones who visit Cardigan, but sufferers from almost all kinds of skin disease come to the town. Two of the patients have died, but both were said to be too far gone for treatment by the herbalists. A medical practitioner, consequently, had to be called in, and the deaths have been ascribed, not to cancer, but to bronchial pneumonia…”
On 24th August 1907 Dr. Hadwen, M. D., writing in ‘The Crown, the Court and County Families Newspaper’ reported that:
“…From all parts patientshave flocked.America, Canada, France, Germany, Africa, Egypt, have sent their quota of human sufferers, and letterspour in daily from different corners of the world directed to these simple men who have undertaken to accomplish what has puzzled the best minds of the medical profession for generations past. Distant Japan has even written for information and help, and imploring letters offering large sums of money for a supply of the precious liquid…”
“…On the first day of my arrival I wended my way to the surgery where the brothers attend the poorer classes of patients…[No. 15 Pendre, Cardigan] and outside the little cottage, of which the front room is hired for this purpose, I first met the ‘secretary’ who first introduced me to the ‘surgery’ itself…”
“…The brothers were expected at four, but by three o’clock the room, measuring 9ft by 9ft, was full of waiting folk, and a small crowd which was continually being augmented – some in carts and traps – waited patiently outside. Upon the table in one corner of the room were numerous glass bottles filled with cancers that had been brought away from the suffering patients at various times. They were all of the same type, namely thick crusts such as could be obtained from any skin surface, even the healthiest.
My genial friend pointed to them admiringly and read out the biographical records inscribed on the covers while the patients listened with baited breath
About five o’clock Daniel Evans arrived. I at once told him I was a medical man, handed him my card, and said I had come to investigate the great work which he and his brother were doing. He seemed very pleased and pointed with pride to the numerous bottles on the table; detailed the numerous letters he was receiving; the telegrams with pre-paid replies which poured upon him, which it was impossible for him to take notice of; the thousands, yes millions of cases he had cured; the inability of himself and his brother to cope with the work much longer; and finally, under stress of great emotion and excitement, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he invoked the deity for a blessing upon my investigations, and expressed the hope I would spread all over the world the good news of how everybody may be cured of everything…”
On 30th August 1907 Dr. Hadwen wrote further in ‘The Crown‘:
“…The discussion as to what the ‘secret oil’ consists of forms a very general topic of conversation in Cardigan. The majority of persons declare it to be an extract of herbs, and they are led to suppose this to be the case by the cancer curers themselves. The chemist from whom the ‘herb doctors’ obtain their necessary drugs has often been approached on the subject, but he knows how to keep his own counsel, and the mystery of its’ composition increases the superstition as to its’ miraculous virtue…”
In 1907 Ellen Evans of Penybanc became a pupil at Ferwig School. In September 1907 Mr. John Addison, J. P., of Carlisle, then residing at No. 25 St. Mary Street, wrote the following in the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘:
“…a month ago my wife attended a specialist who has performed many successful operations for cancer, and he not only pronounced her to be suffering from this disease in both breasts, but stated that an operation would be inadvisable, as her case was too far advanced: thus holding out no hope of recovery. At this time my wife had the greatest difficulty in breathing, the pressure on the lungs in consequence of the disease, being so great. And the specialist could suggest no remedy for relieving it.
A short time prior to this, however, my attention was drawn to a report in the Daily Mail by Dr Hugh Riddle MD as to the cancer cures effected by the Brothers Evans of Cardigan, and as a last resort, I determined to bring my wife to them for treatment. We arrived in Cardigan on Saturday the 16th ultimo, and Messrs. Evans began the treatment the next day and have continued every day since. After the third day the breathing was much easier; and at present my wife has no difficulty in that respect. Her breast is covered with a white, cheesy substance and the herbalists say that, with God’s blessing, a perfect cure is certain…”
On 11th December 1908 Dr. J. Lynn Thomas of Llwyndyrus, spoke out strongly against the brothers and their “cure”. On 12th December 1908 the following appeared in the ‘Weekly Mail‘:
“…CARDIGAN CANCER CURES? STRONG CRITICISM BY DR. LYNN THOMAS. In the British Medical Journal” for this week Dr. Lynn Thomas, C.B., F.R.C.S., has a very important paper upon a case of cancer of the right breast said to have been “cured” by the Cardigan “cancer curers.” During the summer of 1907, he states, he spent his holidays a few miles from Cardigan town, and he proceeds to give the history in abstract of a female patient drawn up for him by Mr. Owen Ll. Rhys, M.B., radiographer to the Cardiff Infirmary. The patient noticed a lump on the right breast, and the left breast became affected. She first visited the “cancer curers” at Cardigan on May 27, 1907. There were, she said, during her stay in Cardigan 500 patients undergoing treatment. She was treated for five months, and then sent home “cured.” She returned to the “curers” in seven weeks, and was treated for a further three months, and then pronounced cured. The treatment was that the patient visited the consulting-room once daily with her own brush. The affected part was then painted all over with oil, after which the patient was told to apply a cabbage leaf over the part until the next morning, when the same treatment was repeated. The only mystery was the “oil,” which “drew the cancer and its roots to the surface.” At the end of her first visit, which lasted five months, the patient was presented with the cancer that had been cured in a bottle, and also a healing oil.” The patient never saw the colour of the oil which was said to be drawing the cancer to the surface. The patient took her own brush for the application of the oil to the skin, and the “cancer curer” squeezed every drop of the oil back into the bottle, and then dried her brush before she was allowed to take it home. She was sent home cured, but in seven weeks returned to Cardigan again, as the skin had not healed up properly. The same daily treatment was applied to the unhealthy and unhealed skin. The second course lasted three months, and she was again sent away cured, and when the patient came to Dr. Lynn Thomas he had photographs taken in order to show the surface appearance of the damage done to the skin by the oil. His conclusions are as follows:—”The sum total of the treatment has been (1) an attack upon the skin alone which has never reached the disease; (2) much pain to the patient, and the waste of valuable and irredeemable time. In popular language, the cancer is still where it was originally, but growing bigger, and the roots extend from the growth under the armpits right up to the neck. In my opinion the cure is worse than a farce, and one may ask how is suffering humanity to be saved from the tragedy of self-destruction by faith in these direful miracles…”
On 14th February 1910 the following item appeared in the ‘South Wales Daily Post‘:
“…CARDIGAN ‘CANCER CURE’. GORSEINON SUFFERER’S DEATH. HUSBAND AND THE TREATMENT’S EFFICACY. MEDICAL OPINION: “EXHAUSTION FROM CANCER. The Swansea, District Coroner held an inquest at Gorseinon on Saturday on Ann Harris (54), Cleveland Cottage, Penrheol, who died on Thursday. David Harris (the husband) said during the past fifteen years deceased suffered from cancer near the left breast. She had bean treated in Cardigan by Daniel and John Evans, Penybank, the treatment beginning in November 1908, and continuing till the end of last June. The cancerous growth had come away, leaving a wound which had healed up, with the exception of a very small hole. Three days ago deceased appeared to contract a cold, and medicine was obtained from a chemist. She became worse and died on Thursday. The treatment of Messrs. Evans consisted of application of oil and powder. There was no operation by cutting, and witness believed she was recovering, and that she died from the effects of the cold. Dr. Woolfson (Loughor) had told deceased she was suffering from cancer, and that he could do nothing for her. Witness did not consult his doctor before taking his wife to Cardigan. Re-called, witnesses said that Messrs. Daniel and John Evans treated deceased gratuitously. Dr. Greely said he noticed a large wound on the inner side of the left breast six and a half inches across and seven inches long. The husband said he had been dressing the wound with a powder obtained from the Cardigan brothers and that he had done up to three days before death. When witness saw the wound it was covered with a cabbage leaf and emitting an unpleasant smell. The wound appeared to have been made by a knife or some instrument. but it could plainly be seen that the instrument was used by an unskilled hand. The body was greatly wasted, and witness thought that deceased died from exhaustion due to cancer. A verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned…”
In April 1911 G. M. Dawkin of Pontypridd wrote an article in the local press attacking the brothers and their “quack” cure. John Evans died on 15th May 1913 aged 70 after a long illness.
On 16th July 1916 Private John Evans of Penybanc was wounded in France. On 22nd June 1918 John Evans, son of the late John Evans of Penybanc, died of gassing on active service, at the age of 23. Daniel Evans died on September 20th 1919 aged 81, and was interred at Ferwig Church. In 1924 Mrs. Mary Evans, Daniel Rees Evans, and the Misses Margaret Mary Evans and Ellen Evans occupied Penybanc. Mrs. Mary Evans was still the farmer in 1926. Mary Evans died in 1932. The property was probably abandoned at about that time and is now a ruin.
NLW Minor Deposit 490-9B
Census Returns 1841; 1851; 1861; 1871; 1881; 1891; 1901
Tithe Map for St. Mary’s Parish 1847
Slater’s Directory 1868
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1895; 1914; 1926
Register of Subscribers – Tabernacl C M Chapel, Cardigan 1883
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1897; 1907-08; 1911; 1913; 1916; 1918; 1930; 1934
Annual Report – Tabernacl C M Chapel 1901; 1924
Daily Mail 1906
The Crown, The Court and County Families Newspaper 1907
List of Voters – Cardigan 25/07/1910
Register of Electors – Cardigan 1912
Cancer Curers – or Quacks?, T Llew Jones & Dafydd Wyn Jones 1993
Monumental Inscriptions, Ferwig Church
Hanes Ysgol y Ferwig 2007.
© Glen K Johnson 08/09/2013