William Rixon was born October 17, 1802, in Sydney, the eldest son of convicts James Rixon and Amelia Goodwin. His early years were spent in the Windsor district, where his father worked initially as a member of the NSW Corps making farm implements, and then as a farmer and labourer. His father died when William was only nine years old, though his mother later remarried.
In 1821, William Rixon was granted 60 acres of land at Campbelltown but quickly exchanged it for 10 acres of land, nearby, which had already been cleared.
He married Ann Hore on January 23, 1826, when Ann was only 14 years old. She was the daughter of John Hore and Elizabeth Love.
For many years after their marriage, William and Ann lived and farmed in various parts of what is now Western Sydney, around places like Marsfield, Campbelltown, Airds and Appin. From farming, they diversified into hotels, being the manager or licensee of a number of hotels in a number of locations between Wollongong and Appin.
William Rixon licensed The Travellers Rest along the old coach road, between Mount Keira and Appin at the Wollongong courthouse during 1842. The location was known as ‘Stringy Bark’ or on some maps as ‘Lachlan Forest’. Licensing records state Rixon’s inn was located 18 miles (29 kilometres) from Wollongong and 10 miles (17 kilometres) from Appin. The license was described as a “wine and beer license” and not a “publican’s License” which indicates the inn was merely a refreshment stop for travellers and offered no accommodation.
Documents reveal the inn was under construction along the Appin to Mt Keira Road in May 1839. However, no records of the inn receiving a license can be found for another three years.
Lady Franklin reveals in her journal while travelling from Appin to Wollongong and crossing the Cataract River, that she ascended the other side of Broughton’s Pass, and seen a hut and stable “where a man and horses for mail are”. She states the coach’s horses were changed there, while further along the track, the horses were stationed at a clearing where an inn was under construction. This building was no doubt The Travellers Rest and although Rixon moved onto another public house later that year, the inn probably continued in operation for several years as an unlicensed wayside stop for coaches and travellers until 1848 when Mt Keira was replaced by Rixon’s Pass at Woonona as the preferred mail route over the escarpment.
William Rixon became the licensee of the Union Revived Hotel at Appin later in 1842. The sandstone inn, still in existence as a private home, is located opposite Saint Bede’s Roman Catholic Church, on the main road through Appin village. Appin had two licensed inns at this time – the Union Revived Hotel and the Bourke Hotel – both had been in existence since 1826. Appin was the first large settlement reached after leaving Wollongong for Sydney.
William Rixon died on May 28, 1847, at Campbelltown and is buried at St Peter’s Church of England. After William’s death, Ann married twice more. On June 11, 1848, she married Owen Dunlaghan who died in January 1851. A year later, on January 24, 1852, Ann married William Henry Phibbs with whom she had one child, William Jordan Phibbs. Phibbs died on November 24, 1863. Ann lived on for many years after that, including at 362 Castlereagh Street, Sydney on the east side between Goulburn and Campbell Street. At the time of her death on August 8, 1895, she was living at “Adderborough” at 19 Denison St Woollahra, Sydney.