Mary Ann Cotton





Mary Ann CottonMary Ann Cotton – (Source Wikipedia)

Serial killers are not just a 20th Century invention. You will be familiar with Jack The Ripper who terrorised the night in Whitechapel during the Victorian era in England, however you may not have heard of Mary Ann Cotton.

This famous female serial killer was also active during the Victorian era in England and is responsible for as many as 21 victims.

Her method of murder is the easiest for female killers to adopt – poison. In her case it was generally Arsnic.




Mary Ann Cotton was born in the City of Sunderland UK back in 1832. She was raised by a severley religious father and after his death did not get on with her mother’s new husband.

Cotton married four times! Yep – talk about a black widow!

She married her first husband, William Mowbray, in 1852 and by 1865 he had dies of an intestinal disorder. Mary cashed in his life insurance to the value of £35 which basically was half a year’s wages for a manual labourer at that time.

Husband two was George Ward, she married him in 1865 and didn’t last past 1866. His recurring “health issues” were the end of him. Once again, guess who waltzed to get a life insurance cheque cashed?

I bet you can see a trend starting here huh?

After marrying James Robinson in 1867 Mary thought she had hit the big time… James became suspicious though when she kept mithering him to get life insurance. After James found out that Mary had been stealing money and pawning valuable items he became angry and chucked her out.

Mary was living on the streets when husband no4 came along.

Frederick Cotton and Mary were married in 1870 and yes, he had life insurance. He followed his predecessors footsteps to his grave in December of 1871.

Mary Cotton basically got rid of anyone she didn’t like, or who stood in her way, or who she could gain financially from. Her method was generally poisoning using arsenic which in those days was readily available.

Cotton was hung by the neck until dead in 1873, she was 40 years old.


There is even a nursery rhyme about her!

Mary Ann Cotton,
Dead and forgotten
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
Sellin’ black puddens a penny a pair


So… next time you get married, and you get pushed into purchasing that all important life insurance policy, you would be best served checking the cupboards for  poison.