Mary Ann Britland coveted her neighbor's husband. Unfortunately her husband and his wife stood in her way.
She lived with her husband and her two daughters on Turner Lane in Ashton-under-Lyne. In February of 1886 she complained that her house had been infested by mice and went to the local chemist to purchase "Harrison's Vermin Killer". Because the compound contained Strychnine and Arsenic she was required to sign the poison register.
The first to die was her eldest daughter, 19-year-old Elizabeth Hannah. She would later confess to the police that she killed her daughter because she believed that Elizabeth was aware of her murderous plan. Her next victim was her husband Thomas. Shocked by her double loss, her neighbor Mary Dixon invited Mary Ann Britland and her daughter to move in. Little did Mrs Dixon know but she was to become Mary Ann Britland's final victim.
Suspicions were aroused when the 3 deaths occurred in such rapid succession and with the same mysterious symptoms. The bodies were exhumed and pathologists found that all 3 had been poisoned. Mary was arrested and charged with 3 counts of murder. Thomas Dixon was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. He was later released and the charges were dropped when it was proved that he had no part in the murder of his wife.
Mary Ann Britland was convicted and sentenced to death. On August 9 1886 she became the first woman to be hung at Strangeways Prison in Manchester, England.