Friday, 28 February 2014

Britain's first serial killer - fundraiser to save letters

A somewhat unusual post has just been made on one of my Facebook pages, concerning efforts to raise money in Durham to save eight letters written in jail by serial killer Mary Ann Cotton in 1873. Here's the story, from one of those seeking to raise the funds, Christine Wadsley Cunningham:

Mary Ann Cotton was considered Britains first serial killer. She wrote 8 letters from jail in 1873 which were recently auctioned to a dealer. A campaign to save these letters and ensure they go into the County Durham archives for all to see and use was begun on Facebook and has culminated in this page being set up to try and raise the £4,000 needed to buy them on behalf of the people of County Durham in order to donate them to the archives. Laws were changed due to this woman which make it much easier for us as family history buffs to access what we need to in order to do our research. The least we can do is donate a few pounds to help preserve this history. So dig deep, and look lively as we don't have much time to raise this money before some private collector decides that they want the letters - then they could disappear forever! Thank you - Regards Christine and Victoria

Please be assured that if we are unlucky enough to lose these letters to a private collector, we will advise on this page and will also ensure that any money collected will go towards preserving family or local history in the UK. We will make a statement on here as to where the money has been donated.

The donation page, with more detail, is available at

The Daily Mail has a story on Mary Ann Cotton at

(With thanks to Christine)


My latest genealogy books are Tracing Your Family History on the Internet (2nd ed), Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, and Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet. My next Pharos course is Scottish Research Online, which commences Feb 27th 2014, 5 weeks, price £45.99.

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