Mary Ann Cotton (born Mary Ann Robson in October 1832 in Low Moorsley, County Durham - died 24 March 1873) was an English woman convicted of murdering her children and believed to have murdered up to 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning. Mary Ann Robson was born in October 1832 at Low Moorsley (now part of Houghton-le-Spring in the City of Sunderland) and baptised at St Mary's, West Rainton on 11 November. Her father Michael, a miner, was ardently religious and a fierce disciplinarian. When Mary Ann was eight, her parents moved the family to the County Durham village of Murton, where she went to a new school and found it difficult to make friends. Soon after the move her father fell 150 feet (46 m) to his death down a mine shaft at Murton Colliery. In 1843, Mary Ann's widowed mother, Margaret (ne Lonsdale) married George Stott, with whom Mary Ann did not get along. At the age of 16, she moved out to become a nurse at Edward Potter's home in the nearby village of South Hetton.
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