Captain William Baxter
William Baxter came to Australia as a convict in 1828 on board the ship Phoenix 2 and worked for Mr. Robb at his Riversdale Estate at Jamberoo.
In 1840, William married Mary Martin and about 15 years later purchased half an acre of land in the Village Peterborough (Shellharbour Village).
William commanded his own sea going vessels and became a Master Mariner: opening up the shipping trade at Shellharbour. His ship William and Ann took farm produce to and from the Sydney markets, loading goods from the shore, before a jetty was built at the harbour in 1859. In 1864 a larger jetty was constructed and the harbour entrance excavated to allow access for bigger ships. A first rate dinner was held by Captain Baxter the following year at the new boat store at the harbour. The 300 guests toured his new schooner Peterborough Lass.
William’s wife Mary died in 1876 from typhoid fever, and William developed cataracts: eventually losing his sight. He died in 1888 leaving five children. The death of Captain William Baxter and the decline of shipping in the village with the coming of railway, ended an era of coastal trade at Shellharbour.