The 10 Most Evil Women in History

Added by Nicola Porrill on Feb 10, 2019

Mary Ann Cotton (1832-1873)

Most of the dastardly women on this list committed their crimes relatively recently, within the last century or so. However, evil women have been around for much longer, as is evident with Mary Ann Cotton. Over the course of her life, she moved all over England. At each place she settled, tragically she lost people close to her. Her three husbands all died, as did a lover, her friend, her mother, and all of her thirteen children. At this point in any other story our hearts would be breaking for this woman, but in her case the story's a little darker. All of those who died had life insurance policies taken out in their names... and all of them died after having the same symptoms of stomach pains and intestinal problems.

It turned out that she had poisoned them all with arsenic, in order to gain the money from their life insurance. What makes her more evil than many other serial killers is that everyone she murdered was meant to be close to her. Women are traditionally nurturing, loving and caring, but she killed in cold blood those people who she was meant to have those very feelings for. She must have been one of the most cold-hearted women in history. She was sentenced to death for her crimes, so was hanged aged 40. However, she didn't die of a broken neck, as usually happened in hangings. The rope was too short for a clean execution (apparently on purpose) so she died a slow death of suffocation. Hats off to that hangman.


Rosemary West (born 1953)

Rosemary West is probably the most recognizable name on this list, as her shocking case is still within living memory. She formed an infamous killing and torturing partnership with her husband Fred West during the 1970s. Together, they kidnapped, locked up, tortured, raped and killed girls and young women, each over a period of several days. Then they buried these young girls' bodies under their house. Horrifically, this included one of their own daughters, as well as one of Fred West's daughters from a previous relationship. Including these two, it is known that they killed ten women. However, it has been suggested that this could be a reflection of only about half their true number of victims.

Rosemary West did not have the best start in life, as her father was a paranoid schizophrenic who repeatedly sexually abused her, but that's no excuse for the life she went on to lead. After her conviction in 1995, West was given a whole life sentence - only the second British woman in history to be handed this, after Myra Hindley. Although justice can never truly be done for those poor young girls, a less severe sentence would have been inadequate.

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