Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mary Ann Britland, English Serial Killer - 1886

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Lancashire.—At Ashton-under-Lyne, on Tuesday, Mary Ann Britland was apprehended on suspicion of having caused the death of a young married woman, named Mary Dixon, by poisoning her with vermin-killer. The prisoner's husband died about three weeks ago, after a brief illness, and she then went to live with Mrs. Dixon, who had just died after only seven hours’ illness. It is alleged that the prisoner purchased the poison at a chemist's shop. She was brought before the magistrates on Wednesday, when the Chief constable stated that she was suspected of having caused the death of two other persons – her husband and her daughter – both of whom died suddenly recently.

Evidence was given that the prisoner had made two purchases of vermin killer (which contains strychnine), and the Chief constable said that on a future occasion he should produce evidence that strychnine was found in the stomach of Mary Dixon by the analyst. The only additional evidence was that the prisoner was staying at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Dixon from the 3rd to the 13th inst., when the latter died. The prisoner was remanded. Application is to be made to the Home Secretary for authority to exhume the bodies of the two other persons.

[“Alleged Wholesale Poisoning.” Lloyd’s Weekly Newsletter (London, England), May 30, 1886, p. p. 5]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): A factory operative, Mary Ann Britland, was found guilty at the Manchester Assizes on Monday of the murder of three persons—her husband, daughter, and neighbour—by poison at Ashton-under-Lyne. It was shown that she had purchased the poison, had obtained the insurance money on the death of each of her victims, and had taken up her abode with the husband of her neighbour.

[Untitled, The Guardian (London, England), Jul. 28, 1886, p. 1102 (p. 6 of issue)]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): The woman Mary Ann Britland was executed this morning in Strangeways Gaol for the murder of a woman named Dixon, at Ashton-under-Lyne, in May last. She was also charged with the murder of her husband in the same way, by poisoning him with vermin killer. She is reported to have made a full confession of her guilt of the first crime, and when asked by some relatives, who visited her on Saturday, whether she had done away with her husband and daughter, she hung down her head, and did not deny it. During last night the convict, who had listened to the ministrations of the prison chaplain with gratitude, was greatly excited, and at midnight she was heard singing snatches of hymns. This morning, when offered refreshment, she was unable to take it. She went to the scaffold supported by two female warders, and the executioner (Berry, of Bradford) lost no time in fixing the rope and arranging the other preliminaries.

The scene as the procession moved to the scaffold was very painful. The voice of the chaplain as he read the usual, prayers was drowned by the screams of the woman. “Oh, Lord, have mercy! Oh, Lord, forgive me!” she piteously cried out; but when once on the scaffold the necessary details were at once completed, and when the drop fell the woman appeared to die instantly. A drop of seven feet was allowed.

[“Execution Of A Woman To-Day - Painful Scene.” The Echo (London, England), Aug. 9, 1886, p. 4]


Mar. 1886 – 19-year-old Elizabeth Hannah. 19, daughter, died.
May 3, 1886 – Thomas Britland, 44, husband, died.
May 14, 1886 – Mary Dixon, neighbor, died.
May 25, 1886 – arrested
July 22, 1886 – trial, Manchester Assizes.
Aug. 9, 1886 – executed, Strangeways Gaol.



More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


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