- 1998 Rixon Family Reunion
- Ben & Annie Rixon Picnic
- More A Forest Than A Family Tree
- Rixon – Goodwin Reunion 2018
James Hickson / Rixon
James Rixon’s exact birth details are uncertain, but it is believed he was born in Derbyshire, England during the 1770s. When he was convicted and sentenced, he was residing in Ilkeston, a small market town in the Erewash Valley in Derbyshire, which is situated near Nottinghamshire.
At the Lent Assizes 19 Mar 1792, the Derby Mercury reported the arrival of Sir Alexander Thomson, Kt., one of the Barons of his Majesty’s court of Exchequer, to hold the county assizes. There were only four prisoners, including James Hickson aged 22 who was “Charged on the oath of William Reed on Suspicion of privately stealing out of his Box in the House of William Webster, of Ilkeston, on Monday the 24th of October last, the Sum of Nine Guineas”. The sentence “To be hang’d” was commuted to Life imprisonment.
James Rixon was held in prison before being transported to Australia. Prior to his transportation, he was transferred from prison to the “Prudentia,” a prison hulk located in Woolwich, Kent. There, he was made to wear leg irons and worked at His Majesty’s Dockyard for several years. In November 1797, James Rixon departed from Portsmouth, England on “The Barwell,” an East India ship known for being a fast sailor that was built in 1782. It is worth noting that an “incident” reportedly took place on board “The Barwell” during its journey to Australia, as reported in Joye Walsh’s book.
Although the ships log is silent on the matter, a private letter states that on the passage to the Cape 25 prisoners had planned to seize control of the vessel while the sailors were aloft and murder the officers. The plot was disclosed by an informer the night before the attempt was to be made. The next morning, as the convict reached the deck, the conspirators were seized, double-ironed and chained together. Although detained for a fortnight by calms and adverse winds, ran out to the Cape in 74 days. She was detained there until March 19, because her officers, fearing they would not find a profitable market at Port Jackson, desired to dispose of their European trade goods. Soon after leaving the cape another plot was allegedly hatched between the convicts and the soldiers to combine to seize the ship.
When “The Barwell” arrived in Sydney on May 17 or May 18, 1798, only 287 out of the 296 prisoners who were on board the ship at departure had survived the journey. Sadly, nine prisoners had died during the voyage.
After working as a convict for three years, James Rixon was granted a Conditional Pardon and joined the NSW Corps on March 25, 1801. According to Pamela Statham, he took the place of Charles Bennett as a substitute.
At some point between 1798 and 1801, James Rixon met Amelia Goodwin, who was also a convict.
Amelia Goodwin was born in 1770 and her first marriage was to John Goodwin. At the time of her conviction, she was living in Greenwich, England and was 29 years old. She was charged with theft from her employer, which included a large number of clothing and household items. While the court records state that the value of the goods was 39 shillings, Joye Walsh suggests that the stolen goods far exceeded that amount. On July 15, 1799, Amelia Goodwin, referred to as “Amy” in the court documents, was tried at Maidstone, Kent and found guilty of the offence. She was subsequently sentenced to 7 years of transportation to Australia.
According to Portia Robinson’s book “The Women of Botany Bay,” the most common offences for which women were transported from London were stealing from employers and stealing from dwelling houses.
Amelia Goodwin traveled to Australia on board the “Speedy,” the same vessel that transported the new Governor, Phillip Gidley-King. The Speedy was a whaling ship belonging to the fleet of Samuel Endersby and Co, and was built on the Thames in 1779. It departed England in November 1799 and arrived in Port Jackson on April 16, 1800. Three of the 53 female convicts on board the ship had died by the time it arrived.
Amelia was likely sent to gaol at Parramatta or may have been assigned to a settler or member of the NSW Corps. Although she already had a husband in England, which may explain why James Rixon and Amelia Goodwin never married, it is also possible that this simply reflected the norms and values of the time.
Their Life Together
On Sunday, January 12, 1806, James Rixon and Amelia Goodwin made history by becoming the parents of triplets. This event was so significant that it made the front page of the Sydney Gazette on Sunday, January 19, 1806. It is believed to be the first recorded birth of triplets by a European woman in Australia. The news of the birth was reported widely.
“On the night of last Sunday se’nnight Amelia Rixon, the wife of a private in the New South Wales Corps, was safely delivered of three infants, two of whom are living and have a very promising appearance”
In the years following the birth of their triplets, James Rixon and Amelia Goodwin had four other children and moved around quite a bit. During this time, James worked in the NSW Corps and also made farm implements. However, in 1807, James was drummed out of the NSW Corps, although the specific reasons for his dismissal are unknown.
Death of James, Amelia re-marries
James Rixon died at the age of 36 on April 5, 1811, and was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Matthew’s Church of England in Windsor. Although the cause of his death was not listed on the certificate, Amelia Goodwin, with whom he had five sons, was recognized as his wife and received his land grant after his death.
On December 23, 1816, using the name Emma Goodwin, Amelia married another former convict, Robert Burrows, who had arrived in Australia on June 12, 1801. However, the marriage was short-lived, as Robert accidentally drowned in the creek at Aspinall’s Farm near Windsor on January 25, 1820.
In 1826, the sons, Thomas and Henry Rixon and their stepbrother, Robert Burrows made a gruesome discovery, which led to an arrest for the murder of Frederick Fisher who had disappeared on June 17, 1826. It is reported that…
In October 1826 two boys, Rixon and Burrows, were returning home across Fisher’s farm and noticed bloodstains on a fence. Closer investigation found a lock of hair the same colour as Fisher’s hair and a tooth. Constable Luland searched the wheat paddock, prodding the ground with an iron bar, but found nothing. Old John Warby suggested Aboriginal trackers be called in. The ground was marshy, and Namut (known by the English name, Gilbert) the tracker from Liverpool, tasted the water in the puddles and announced ‘white fellow’s fat there’! They followed the puddles, prodding the ground, and found Fisher’s remains in a shallow grave on (George) Worrall’s land.
Death of Amelia
* James Rixon was born January 5, 1806. He married his sister-in-law Elizabeth Hoare on August 27, 1833 at St Peter’s Church of England, Campbelltown, the daughter of John Hoare and Elizabeth Love. According to his obituary, James “was one of the pioneers of this large district being, we believe the first man who brought a bullock-dray down from Monaro to Eden. Prior to his settling at Bega he built and kept for many years the Crown and Anchor Hotel, Eden.” He died September 12, 1873 at Bega, NSW (3335/1873). Fellow researcher, Annette West writes his death was “after a long period of time from heart disease an not by a accidental fall in the Commercial Hotel as is believed by some. Elizabeth ran the hotel for a year then went into hands of the Underhill’s. There is a news paper article about Elizabeth’s departure saying that she was going to take charge of a hotel near the wharf at Merimbula.”
* William Rixon was born October 17, 1802 at Sydney Cove. When she was only fourteen, William married Ann Hoare on 23rd January 1826 in St Peter’s Campbelltown. Ann was the daughter of John Hoare and Elizabeth Love. In their first few years of marriage William and Ann lived at the Field of Mars before moving to the Campbelltown Districts of Airds and Appin where they began to farm with the assistance of convict labour. Around the time of the birth of their daughter Sarah in November 1839, William and Ann moved to Spring Creek where they managed “The Stringy Bark Inn” a property owned by William’s brother, Benjamin. William also had other hotel interests in the area. William Rixon died on May 28, 1847 (V1847827 32B/1847) at Campbelltown. After William’s death, Ann married twice more. Ann died at 9 Denison St Woollahra, Sydney on August 8, 1895 and is buried at the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Waverly. Please see the biography page of William and Ann for more information about their lives.
* Benjamin Rixon was born January 5, 1806. He married Margaret Finnamore on October 26, 1829 at St. Peter’s Church of England, Campbelltown. He died July 20, 1886 at Bulli, NSW.
* Thomas Rixon was born August 8, 1808 at Windsor, NSW. He married Ann Smith (born September 11, 15 at Airds) on April 28, 1834 at St.Peter’s Church of England, Campbelltown (V1834 1330 18). He died August 15, 1883 at Campbelltown NSW (6323/1883) Although it has been repeated over several generations that Ann’s mother was the famous “Granny Smith”, information on the Ryde Council Website disputes this.
Henry John Rixon
* Henry John Rixon was born June 22, 1810 at Windsor, and was baptised on April 14, 1811 at St Matthew’s Windsor. He married Elizabeth Seekings on April 2, 1835 at St Peter’s Church of England at Campbelltown. He died June 13, 1884 at Nelligen, near Bega.
* “Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record – Series 1 1788-1841” Ed. John T Spurway Ass Ed. Allison Allen. (1992) Sydney: page 351 – 352
* Portia Robinson, “The Women Of Botany Bay” (published 1988) by the Macquarie Library.
* James Rixon is also briefly mentioned (page 271) in “The Hatch and Brood of Time: A Study of the First Generation of Native-born” by Portia Robinson (Published 1985 Oxford University Press) as “another private (who) had died when his son William was one year old”.
* The book about James, Amelia and their descendants by Joye Walsh, “More a Forest than a Family Tree” is absolutely tremendous. It was self-published by Joye in 1998, and is readily available at a number of public libraries. ISBN 0958555605, and has now been updated.
More A Forest Than A Family Tree
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