Wrixon, Sir Henry John (1839–1913), lawyer and politician, was born 18 October 1839 in Cork, son of Arthur Nicholas Wrixon, later county court judge in Victoria, Australia, and his wife Charlotte Matilda, daughter of Capt. William Bace, who fought under the duke of Wellington (qv). In 1850 Wrixon went to Victoria with his father, and was one of the earliest students to matriculate at the University of Melbourne. Soon afterward he returned to Ireland to study at TCD, where he graduated BA in 1861, the same year in which he was called to the Irish bar.
He returned in 1863 to Victoria, where he practised as a barrister. In February 1868 he was elected for the first time to the Victorian legislative assembly. In April 1870 he became solicitor general in the third McCulloch ministry, and held this position till the ministry resigned en bloc in the summer of 1871. Wrixon's resignation marked the beginning of a period away from politics that lasted almost a decade. He did not stand for election during the 1877 elections, and soon afterwards undertook a tour of Europe. He returned to the political fray in 1880 when he was elected to the Victorian legislative assembly for the Portland constituency, a seat he held for the following fourteen years.
In February 1886, when the Gillies ministry was founded, Wrixon became attorney general; in this post, he showed great ability in piloting bills through the house. One of his major achievements occurred in 1890, when he went to London to represent Victoria in the Toy case, which dealt with the power of the colonies to refuse to admit aliens. Earlier Wrixon had argued the case before the Victorian full court, where five judges had decided against the government. In London, however, Wrixon succeeded in getting the privy council to reverse this judgment. Also in 1890, he became a QC. However, after such a fine success in London Wrixon experienced disappointment when in November 1890 he resigned his position with the fall of the Gillies ministry. Such vicissitudes proved to be a regular feature of his subsequent career.
In 1891, no doubt with a profile enhanced from his successful tenure as attorney general, Wrixon was elected as one of the Victorian representatives to the federal convention held in Sydney. Disappointment was, nonetheless, close at hand; in 1892 he failed in his bid to win the Victorian speakership. In 1894 he resigned his seat in the assembly to turn his attention to the legislative council, to which in 1896 he gained election. He suffered a blow in 1897 when, perhaps demonstrating a lack of political sophistication, he narrowly failed to secure election as one of Victoria's representatives at the imminent federal convention. Undoubtedly Wrixon's finest achievement within the domestic sphere occurred with his election to the position of president of the Victorian legislative council in 1901, a position he held till his retirement in 1910.
Wrixon wrote a number of treatises and was awarded a number of distinctions away from the political sphere. His most notable works included Socialism: being notes on a political tour (1896); The pattern nation (1906), a dispassionate view of the trend towards socialism but written from a conservative viewpoint; and The religion of the common man (1909). In 1902 he was created KCMG. He was vice-chancellor of the university of Melbourne (1897–1910), and in 1902 he was appointed a trustee of the public library, museums, and national gallery in Melbourne. In 1905 he was created vice-president of the trustees. He died 9 April 1913 in Melbourne.
He married (1872) Charlotte, daughter of Henry Miller; they had two sons and one daughter.