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Information about MACotton

Published on January 25, 2008

Author: Dario


Mary Ann Cotton:  Mary Ann Cotton By Leia Hockaday Slide2:  Mary Ann Cotton -- She's dead and she's rotten! She lies in her bed With her eyes wide open.  Sing, sing! "Oh, what can I sing? Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string.“ Where, where? "Up in the air -- selling black puddings a penny a pair." Her Life. :  Her Life. Mary Ann Cotton was born into a young family. When her parents married, they were younger than twenty. Her father was a miner and he didn’t bring much money home for the family. When she was eight, her family moved and so they had to go to another school. When at school, she found it hard to make friends. Her family was broken apart by the death of her father when he was at work after he fell down a mine shaft. Her mother re-married. Mary disliked her new step father. But he brought wealth to the family. Mary Ann got a job at a nearby house at the age of sixteen. She served there for three years. When she left, she started to train as a dressmaker. Her Story:  Her Story Mary Ann Cotton is famous for being the first female serial killer in Britain. She is thought to have killed five husbands, their children and other family members. In total, it’s thought she killed 21 or more people. A pattern emerged. She married a man and then her husband died. They were soon followed by her children. She moved around the north-east to avoid detection. She poisoned her victims with arsenic but it wasn’t until she was found guilty after she poisoned her step-son, Charlie that the real truth emerged…. When she was arrested, her victims body were tested and traces of arsenic was found. 1st Husband :  1st Husband Mary Ann married a miner called William Mowbray secretly in Devon, where she became pregnant for the first time. She eventually had five children but four of them died. William and Mary moved to the North East and she had another three children. All three of the children and William died. Slide6:  After William died, Mary Ann and her remaining children moved to Seaham where she started seeing a local man called Joseph Natress. Joseph was engaged to someone else and Mary Ann was unable to break that relationship up. On the day Joseph Natress married his fiancé, Mary Ann fled to Sunderland with only one child, having earlier buried her three and a half year old daughter. Another Relationship. 2nd Husband. :  2nd Husband. Mary Ann and her only surviving child Isabella went to live in Sunderland. Isabella went to live with her grandmother whilst Mary Ann worked at The Sunderland Infirmary, House of Recovery for the Cure of Contagious Fever, Dispensary and Humane Society. Here she had free access to the drugs supply. One of her jobs was to clean the wards with soap and arsenic. She was very popular with the patients and eventually married former patient George Ward an engineer in Monkwearmouth in August 1865. Not long after the wedding, George became ill and developed health problems. In October 1866, he died. Still nobody had grown suspicious about the deaths of her husbands and all but one of her children who had died from very similar illnesses. 3rd Husband:  3rd Husband In November 1866, Mary Ann became housekeeper to James Robinson whose wife, Hannah, had died earlier One of James’s children became ill, two days before Christmas, with gastric fever and died. He turned to Mary Ann for comfort and later she became pregnant with his child. Whilst still living with Robinson, Mary Ann’s mother became ill so she immediately went to Seaham Harbour, where her mother and daughter lived. Her mother started getting better but days later, began complaining of stomach pains. She died nine days after Mary Ann had arrived. Isabella and Mary Ann went back home with James, where Isabella developed bad stomach pains. Isabella and two of James’s children died. All three children were buried within two weeks of each other at the end of April 1867. The couple had their first baby – a daughter called Mary Isabella. But she became ill with the same illness as the other children. James was surprised when to receive letters telling him about money that Mary Ann had spent. When he asked his remaining children, it turned out that she had pawned a lot of his possessions without his permission. James threw Mary out and she took their daughter with her. In 1869, Mary Ann asked a woman to look after Mary Isabella whilst she posted a letter. She never returned and Mary Isabella went to live with her father. 4th Husband:  4th Husband In 1870, a friend, Margaret Cotton introduced Mary Ann to her brother, Frederick a widower who’d recently lost two of his four children from his previous marriage. He had a sister who acted as Charlie’s and Frederick Junior’s mother. Unfortunately, she too died of a stomach illness. Mary soon attached herself to Frederick and his family and became pregnant with Frederick’s child. Adding to her list of crimes she married in Frederick in September of 1870 even though she was still married to James Robinson Mary Ann decided to keep her first husband name – Mowbray. Mary Ann insured Frederick and his two sons. Mary gave birth to a son, Robert, in 1871. She had heard that Joseph Natress, a former boyfriend, had become single and she moved herself and family to go and live with him. In December of 1871, Frederick Cotton died of the same illness everyone had. 5th Husband. :  5th Husband. After Frederick died, Joseph Natress moved in with Mary Ann. She got a job as a nurse for John Quick-Manning and again it wasn’t long before she became pregnant with his child. She couldn’t marry Quick-Manning as she was still part of the Cotton family. Frederick Junior died in 1872 and was soon followed by her young son Robert. Natress also became ill with gastric fever. Joseph would soon follow! He would be Mary Ann Cotton’s last husband. Green Wallpaper.:  Green Wallpaper. Frederick Cotton’s son, Charles, was still alive. Mary Ann sent him to get some arsenic from the chemist. He wasn’t allowed to buy it because he was under the age of 21. One of Mary Ann’s friends were asked if they would collect it. In July of that year, Charles died of gastric fever. Mary Ann’s neighbours became suspicious of Mary Ann as they were aware of the line of husbands and children that had died. Before Charles had died, Mary Ann had tried to get him in a workhouse but she refused because she had to go with him. She had told Thomas Reily that he would no longer be in the way. Also he’ll go like the rest of the Cotton family. He grew in suspicion when he had seen Charles and he was healthy and five days later had died. Reily wanted to look into the situation and told the doctor not to sign the death certificate. Mary Ann went to collect the money she was owned because of his death. She was told she couldn’t collect it because she needed proof of a Death Certificate. Mary Ann went to collect the certificate but it hadn’t been signed. Mary Ann found out that Thomas Reily wanted to look into the death of Charles. She was fuming and put Reily in charge of the funeral costs. Word went round West Auckland about her murders and soon the newspaper publishers became involved. At the time her wedding with Quick-Manning was being planned. When he found out about all of this, he refused to see Mary Ann and he didn’t want anything to do with her. The doctor had kept samples of Charles body and he carried out tests. The test for arsenic was positive so the authorities were informed and they arrested Mary Ann for the death of Charles. Slide12:  Her trial began in March of 1873. She was found guilty of the murder of Charles Cotton after research went into his death. She was arrested and wrote letters to family members and supporters and also to James Robinson. She wanted him to bring their children to visit her jail. He ignored her letter though. Finally, March 24th came. She was hung. The hangman had misjudged the hanging and so she took three minutes to finally die. Slide13:  Recent modernisation of the prison meant some of the graves of executed criminals were disturbed. Their bodies were removed and cremated. Mary Ann Cotton was one of those Note to Sarah :  Note to Sarah There’s two images of Mary Ann Cotton from your archive. One’s a real photo in which she looks normal but the second is a drawing made up to make her look evil/ sinister. I’d like to have these as an exercise in which pupils are asked the following questions Describe the ways the two are similar How are they different? Which is most reliable in showing what Mary Ann Cotton was like? If you were editor of a newspaper which of these would you use and why? Why do you think the bottom picture has been put together in this style?

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