Categories: Crime and Punishment, Wethersfield

The Beadle Family Murders – Today in History: December 11

Poem relating the Beadle murders
Poem relating the Beadle murders followed by an account from the Connecticut Courant, December 17, 1782 – Connecticut Historical Society

Following the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed a law that closed the Port of Boston to all ships, preventing supplies from reaching the citizens of Massachusetts. William Beadle, a Wethersfield merchant gave money for the relief of Boston. In exchange for his goods, Beadle accepted Continental currency, which dropped greatly in value during the war. When Beadle no longer ranked among the wealthiest men in town but only among the “middling sort,” the reality horrified him. He began to carry a carving knife and an ax to his bedside every night.

Early in the morning of December 11, 1782, William decided that he was ready and awakened the maid to fetch the doctor, explaining that Lydia had been ill all night. He struck his wife and each of his children with the ax on the side of the head as they lay sleeping in their beds. He then cut their throats from ear to ear with the carving knife. The three daughters were taken from the bed and laid side by side upon the floor before their throats were cut. William then went down the stairs, leaving footprints of blood. He seated himself in a Windsor chair, supporting his arms on the arms of the chair. He fixed the muzzle of a pistol into each ear and fired both pistols at the same time. The balls passed through his head in opposite directions, ending the life of William Beadle.

Contributed by Mary Pat Knowlton, Education Coordinator at the Wethersfield Historical Society.

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