Sunday, March 11, 2012

Unsolved Murder

My 10th Great Grandmother was murdered in New Hampshire in May or June of 1648. Her name was Hannah (or Annah) Willix. She was traveling from Dover to Exeter when she was attacked, robbed and her body "flung" into the river. I found a document online called "New Hampshire Homicides 1630-1774" that contains this information: Hannah "was founde in the [Piscataqua] River dead; her necke broken, her tounge black and swollen out of her mouth & the bloud settled in her face, the privy partes swolne &c as if she had been muche abused &c." 

It is not known whether her murderer was ever caught. Her husband Balthasar did file a breach of contract suit against Robert Hithersay "for raising an evil report of his deceased wife, and for breach of promise in carrying his wife to Oyster River in a canoe and not bringing her in a canoe again." Hithersay seems to have been a wandering character whom Balthasar suspected of harming his wife. Hithersay and Balthasar Willix had cross suits for defamation. I could not find any records describing the resolution of this case. The Oyster River is speculation from some who interpreted the O.R. to mean Oyster River.  After her death, Balthasar moved to Salisbury, Massachusetts and married a widow named Mary Hawksworth. He is called a man of "more than ordinary education" by Bell. I will definitely continue looking for information on this crime. 

In 1996 a book was loosely based on this case - The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin by Richard Begiebing. 

Balthasar Willix & Hannah/Annah
Hazelelponi Willix & John Gee
Hannah/Annah Gee & Samuel Hodgkins
Jonathan Hodgkins & Mary Stockbridge
Rachel Hodgkins & William Moody
Elizabeth Moody & Samuel Ackley
William Ackley & Deborah Capen
Sarah Ackley & John Abbott
Mary Jane Abbott & Edward Capen
Fannie Capen & Edward M. Carter
T. Richard Carter & F. Lyndell Cotton

NEHGR Vol. 50 p. 46-47
History of the town of Exeter, New Hampshire by C.H. Bell


  1. I stumbled across your blog while googling "Hazelelponi Willix", who happens to also be an ancestor of mine, a 10th great grandmother. And discovered this hitherto unknown to me murder story. Genealogy is a fascinating hobby. Thank you for digging this information out and posting it to be seen. Regards, Buddy Poland

  2. Hi,

    I'm also a relative of yours through Hazelepoini Willix. Balthazar Willix had a father, Balthazar Willechs in Alford, Lincolnshire England. He was married to an Anna. Reference is here. Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for sharing the source, Suzanne. It's always great to hear from a fellow descendant.

  3. Thanaks for the reference to the History of the Town of Exeter. Hannah is my wife's 10th great grandmother as well. Have the book "Strange Death of Mistress Coffin" on order through our library. We both just finished the book "Goody Wing". It is apparently an equivalent historical novel about Deborah Bachiler Wing, one of the daughters of Steven Bachiler, as well as Stephen Bachiler and his other two daughters in Mass. and NH. Theodate and Ann. Lee Zuker,,

  4. I am also a 10th Great Grandaughter to Ms Hannah. I would love to compare family history and notes. My email is Please keep me posted if you find out any more about her murder. I found this information on (What you have posted)

  5. Well, let me throw my hat into the mix. I too am a descendent and also 10th!

    What a horribly sad story!

  6. My husband’s 10th great grandmother

  7. Hannah was my 8th great grandmother