All about Mary Ann Cotton
The history of Mary Ann Cotton is a whirlwind of mystery, deceit, murder, and lust. She was an English bred woman who was convicted of murdering more then 21 people all over England. Arsenic is a poison that would cause people to suffer from horrible stomach pains and then it would later be diagnosed as gastric fever. Many of the people that she murdered were those who were close to her, there were never any reports of her killing random strangers.
Mary Ann Cotton was born as Mary Ann Robson in October of 1832 in Low Moorsley, County Durham. She then died on March 24th of 1873 at the age of 41. She had a father named Michael who was a miner and he was very religious and extremely aware of the effects of discipline. Her mother, Margaret didn’t object to her father’s disciplinary actions though she cared for her daughter immensely. Mary Ann’s family moved to the County Durham when she was 8 and her father suffered a tragic death, falling 150 feet into a mine shaft. That is where her life started to spiral out of control.
Mary Ann’s Husbands
When Mary Ann was 20 years old, she married William Mowbray in Newcastle and they then moved to Plymouth, Devon. Together they had given life to 5 children although only 1 of them survived, the other 4 died of a disease called gastric fever. After the deaths of their children, Mary Ann and William moved back to North East England and had three more children; all of which died. William Mowbray then died of an intestinal disease soon after in 1865 and Mary Ann collected 35 pounds from his life insurance policy.
Joseph Nattrass (Boyfriend)
When Mary Ann moved to Seaham Harbour, County Durham after the death of her first husband, she then started to see a man named Joseph Nattrass. She later found out that he was due to be married and so she left Seaham Harbour and moved to Sunderland. During the time that she was with Joseph Nattrass, her daughter died which only left her with 1 child remaining who she sent to live with her mother soon after.
Mary Ann began to work at the Sunderland Infirmary and one of her patients there was named George Ward. They soon married on the 28th of August, 1865 although George was ill. He continued to suffer from his ailment and then died in October of 1866 from paralysis and intestinal diseases. His advising doctor said that George was very ill but he was still surprised that he had died so suddenly. Mary Ann then collected money from his life insurance policy as well.
James Robinson was a widow who had hired Mary Ann to become his housekeeper in November of 1866. James’ youngest child died one month later of gastric fever and he immediately turned to Mary Ann to soothe his sorrows. She then became pregnant but her mother also became ill so she travelled to stay with her mother during her illness. Although Mary Ann’s mother had regained some strength, she died nine days after Mary Ann had arrived. Mary Ann then took her first daughter back to the Robinson home and she then died of gastric fever, as did 2 other children that Robinson had. On the 11th of August, 1867 Mary Ann and James became married and she gave birth to their child in November of 1867 but she then became ill with stomach pains and died in March of 1868. At this point in time, Mary Ann had been pressuring James to obtain a life insurance policy and he began to get very curious. He then found out she had been stealing money and he then threw her out.
Mary Ann’s final husband was Frederick Cotton who she was introduced to through a mutual friend. Frederick had two remaining children, Frederick Jr. and Charles and their mutual friend was acting as a substitute mother for them. Oddly enough, in March 1870 she died from a stomach illness as well which only left Mary Ann to care for the children. She then became pregnant with Frederick Sr.’s child and they were married on the 17th of September, 1870. Soon after, he also died of gastric fever in December of that year.
Mary Ann’s Demise
Mary Ann was caught as soon as she had met a parish official named Thomas Riley. Thomas needed Mary Ann to nurse a woman back to health but Mary Ann insisted that the only remaining Cotton boy would get in the way. Riley said that Mary Ann would have to take the boy wherever she went and she then replied with a statement that said the boy would die soon anyway. Five days later when the last Cotton son had died, Riley became suspicious and told the coroner to delay the death certificate. Mary Ann, staying loyal to her past, then tried to collect life insurance from the death of her husband but was informed that she couldn’t until the death certificate had been submitted. The causation of Cotton’s death was unknown and so it went to trial where all was revealed. Mary Ann had said she was tending to his illness using Arrowroot but further investigation showed that he was poisoned via arsenic. She was then hanged on March 24th of 1873.
The tale of Mary Ann Cotton is a weary and dreadful tale that is nothing but factual evidence. Fortunately, she was caught and brought to justice but unfortunately there were an abundance of people who lost their lives due to her unjust reasons.