Private collector buys Mary Ann Cotton letters

Mary Ann Cotton
Mary Ann Cotton
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LETTERS from notorious serial killer Mary Cotton have been sold to a private collector.

Low Moorsley-born Cotton, pictured, who also lived in South Hetton and Hendon, was hanged, aged 41, in 1873 for poisoning more than 20 people with arsenic.

Her victims included her three husbands, as well as some of her 11 children – all from the County Durham and Tyneside area.

The anonymous buyer saw eight letters from her for sale on eBay and bought them under the pseudonym William Lowrey – the name of the lodger Cotton originally wrote the letters to.

In a statement, he has since donated high-resolution copies to the Durham Records Office in Durham City, and Beamish Museum.

He said: “I know the value of seeing the original transcript. You can see the narrative between the recipients.

“I saw the seller was listing them one at a time on eBay so I decided to ask if he would consider an offer for them all together.”

Cotton wrote the letters to her lodger just weeks before she was hanged in Durham Prison.

Christine Cunningham and Victoria House launched an online campaign earlier this year to keep the letters free for public viewing.

However, Ms Cunningham, originally from the North East, appreciated the copies provided for exhibition.

She said: “While not quite the result we were hoping for, we are reasonably happy with the outcome.

“We are still pleased that we set the page up as many more people now know about the letters and their importance to family historians.”

The campaigners were pleased that the letters were being kept together.

Any money left over from their fund-raising will be donated to the Friends of County Durham Record Office volunteer group.