Mary Ann Cotton: A Frail Dressmaker's Poisonous Past

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Mary Ann's trial lasted three days and afterward, she was found guilty and was executed in Durham Jail on March 24th, 1873 by William Calcraft (Wilson). Rumors had been flying all over the area of the infamous Mary Ann Cotton; people wanted to see how this case turned out. Therefore, about 50 people were present, half of them journalists, with 200 waiting outside of the prison ("The Story of Mary Ann Cotton: A Frail Dressmaker's Poisonous Past"). At 8am on March 24, 1873, Mary Ann Cotton, then 41, was taken from her cell and led across the yard at Durham prison to her hanging station, flanked by two female guards to whom she declared "Heaven is my home." Even so, Mary Ann was scared out of her mind, praying with ever step of the way. ("The …show more content…

As described before, the hanging was horribly botched, being that the drop below the trap door was too short (Wilson). Despite Mary Ann's leisurely lifestyle, she died the death of an animal. This is made an example by the event that occurred as Calcraft and his assistant hangman were leaving; a local photographer was selling pictures of Mary Ann being executed ("The Story of Mary Ann: A Frail Dressmaker's Poisonous Past"). In review of the trial, this deadly woman was charged with the murder of four people in all: her stepson, Charles Edward, Joseph Nattrass, Frederick Cotton (whose body they could not find), and Robert Robson Cotton, although she was put on trial for only one murder, the one that had been committed without any doubt of the people ("The Story of Mary Ann: A Frail Dressmaker's Poisonous Past"). This lack of doubt was shown by the jury, taking just 90 minutes to convict her …show more content…

However, to the very end, she pled innocence. Mary Ann, charged with murder, said " I am as innocent as the child unborn" ("The Story of Mary Ann: A Frail Dressmakier's Poisonous Past"). Even further, she pleaded not guilty and incessantly explained that she purchased arsenic in order to kill bed bugs, as was not an unheard of practice at the time. Despite all her pleas, the judge announced that she was guilty and was going to be sentenced to hanging, causing Mary Ann to faint in the dock and have to be carried back to her cell (Abbott). Despite her sentence, the defense in the case was very sound, handled by Mr. Thomas Campbell Foster. He claimed to the court that Charles Edward died form inhalation of an arsenic-based dye in the wall paper hung in the house (Abbott). After sentencing, several petitions were presented to the Home Secretary for repeal of the case, but to no avail; she was going to be hanged on March 24, 1873

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