Hello LOVELIES, it's been a while since i did a post on DTB's Saturday Digest series. I have been very busy of late and mostly weekends. I am terribly sorry for skipping some post, will do my best to make it up to you guys..
Today another cold-blooded murder joins our long-list of "World's most Infamous Murders" at number 11. Mary Ann Cotton referred to 'Monster in Human Shape' killed three of her four husband, apparently in order to collect on their insurance policies. According to record books, her victims may be as many as 21 the list included eleven of her thirteen children.
Mary Ann, from Low Moorsley, County Durham, England used arsenic poisoning for her victims, which caused severe gastric pain and rapid decline of health and ultimately death.
Mary Ann met and married her first husband 'William Mowbray' at the age of 20 in 1852. The couple have five children together, four of whom died from gastric fever. They had three other children whom died again. William died of an intestinal disorder in January 1865. William's life was insured by the British and Prudential Insurance office and Mary Ann collected a payout of £35 on his death, equivalent to about half a year's wages for a manual labourer at the time.
Soon after the death of William, their 3 year old daughter died, leaving her with just one of nine she had borne. She the sent her last daughter Isabella to live with her mother. She met husband number two an engineer named 'George Ward. They married in Monkwearmouth on 28 August 1865. He continued to suffer ill health; he died in October 1866 after a long illness characterised by paralysis and intestinal problems. The attending doctor later gave evidence that Ward had been very ill, yet he had been surprised that the man's death was so sudden. Once again, Mary Ann collected insurance money from her husband's death.
Now to husband number 3, the only wise one. James Robinson was a shipwright at Pallion, Sunderland, whose wife, Hannah, had recently died. He hired Mary Ann as a housekeeper in November 1866. A month later, when James' baby died of gastric fever, he turned to his housekeeper for comfort and she became pregnant. Then Mary Ann's mother, living in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, became ill so she immediately went to her. Although her mother started getting better, she also began to complain of stomach pains. She died at age 54 in the spring of 1867, nine days after Mary Ann's arrival.
Mary Ann's daughter Isabella, from the marriage to William Mowbray, was brought back to the Robinson household and soon developed bad stomach pains and died; so did another two of Robinson's children. All three children were buried in the last two weeks of April 1867.
Robinson married Mary Ann at St Michael's, Bishopwearmouth on 11 August 1867. Their first child, Mary Isabella, was born that November, but she became ill and died in March 1868. Their second child George was born on 18 June 1869.
Robinson, meanwhile, had become suspicious of his wife's insistence that he insure his life; he discovered that she had run up debts of £60 behind his back and had stolen more than £50 that she was supposed to have put in the bank. The last straw was when he found she had been forcing his older children to pawn household valuables for her. He threw Mary Ann out, retaining custody of their son George.
Husband number 4, Mary Ann was desperate and living on the streets. Then her friend Margaret Cotton introduced her to her brother, Frederick, a pitman and recent widower living in Walbottle, Northumberland, who had lost two of his four children. Margaret had acted as substitute mother for the remaining children, Frederick Jr. and Charles. But in late March 1870 Margaret died from an undetermined stomach ailment, leaving Mary Ann to console the grieving Frederick Sr. Soon her eleventh pregnancy was underway.
Frederick and Mary Ann were bigamously married on 17 September 1870 at St Andrew's, Newcastle Upon Tyne and their son Robert was born early in 1871. Soon after, Mary Ann learnt that her former lover, Joseph Nattrass, was living 30 miles away in the County Durham village of West Auckland, and no longer married. She rekindled the romance and persuaded her new family to move near him. Frederick followed his predecessors to the grave in December of that year, from "gastric fever." Insurance had been taken out on his life and the lives of his sons.
She also bore a child for her new boyfriend Joseph nattrass. Then Nattrass became ill with gastric fever, and died – just after revising his will in Mary Ann's favour.
Her downfal eventually came when she poisoned the last surviving of the Cotton's 'Charles' whom she said was in her way to landing another insurance policy collection.
Rumour turned to suspicion and forensic inquiry. The doctor who attended Charles had kept samples, and they tested positive for arsenic. He went to the police, who arrested Mary Ann and ordered the exhumation of Charles' body. She was charged with his murder, although the trial was delayed until after the delivery of her thirteenth and final child in Durham Gaol on 10 January 1873, whom she named Margaret Edith Quick-Manning Cotton.
Mary Ann Cotton was hanged at Durham County Gaol on 24 March 1873 by William Calcraft. Of Mary Ann's thirteen children, only two survived her: Margaret Edith and her son George from her marriage to James Robinson.
Nursery Ryhmes sang after her execution:
Mary Ann Cotton also had her own nursery rhyme of the same title, sung after her hanging on 24 March 1873.
Mary Ann Cotton, she's dead and she's rotten,
Lying in bed with her eyes wide open.
Sing, sing, oh what should I sing?
Mary Ann Cotton, she's tied up with string.
Where, where? Up in the air.
Selling black puddings, a penny a pair.
Mary Ann Cotton, she's dead and forgotten,
Lying in bed with her bones all rotten.
Sing, sing, what can I sing?
Mary Ann Cotton, tied up with string.