Charlotte Badger

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Charlotte Badger
Born Bromsgrove, England
Baptised 31 July 1778
Died in or after 1818
the Americas
Criminal charge Housebreaking
Criminal penalty Seven years' transportation to New South Wales
Partner(s) John Lancashire
Parent(s) Thomas and Ann Badger
Piratical career
Type Pirate
Years active 1806–08
Base of operations New Zealand

Charlotte Badger (1778 – in or after 1818)[1] is widely considered to be the first Australian female pirate. She was also one of the first two white female settlers in New Zealand.[2]

Early life[edit]

Badger was born in 1778, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Badger. She was baptised on 31 July 1778.[2] Her family was poor, and one day in 1796,[3] she stole several guineas and a silk handkerchief in an attempt to support them,[4] but was caught and arrested. She was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude in New South Wales.[4]


Badger arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1801.[5] In 1806 she was serving at the Parramatta female factory, during which she gave birth to a daughter.[5]

In 1806, she travelled with her child aboard The Venus, with plans to become a servant in Van Diemens Land.[4][6] The captain of the ship, Samuel Chase, was in the habit of flogging the women for entertainment, until his charges and crew mutinied.[4][7] Badger and another convict, Catherine Hagerty, talked the men on board into seizing the ship, while the captain was ashore at Port Dalrymple in northern Tasmania.[8][6]

In 1806, Badger and Hagerty and their lovers, John Lancashire and Benjamin Kelly, went to the Bay of Islands in the far north of New Zealand, where they settled at the pa at Rangihoua.[8][6] By April 1807, Hagerty had died and by the end of the year Lancashire and Kelly had also left.[5]

In 1826, the American ship the Lafayette landed in Vavaʻu. On the ship's landing in Sydney, they reported that Charlotte Badger and her daughter had stopped there eight years earlier. Badger could speak Māori fluently and could communicate in Tongan and was travelling on a whaling ship to America.[6][5]

Some stories suggest that the other mutineers all fled but were eventually caught and hanged,[4] while others suggest that they went pirating after Badger, Hagerty, Lancashire and Kelly left, despite not knowing how to navigate the ship. Then the Māori captured The Venus, and burned it to retrieve the scrap metal, and cooked the men on board. Meanwhile, Lancashire and Kelly were also recaptured and Hagerty died of a fever.[8]

In the 1825 convict muster there is listed a Charlotte Badger, with 10-year-old daughter Maria, who arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1801. While the birth date is estimated at 1785, it's highly unlikely there were two Charlotte Badgers: one who became a pirate and another who was listed in Parramatta in 1825. [9]

References in media[edit]

  • Charlotte Badger was the subject of a 2002 historical fiction novel by author Angela Badger; Angela's story later transformed into a 2008 play by Euan Rose.[10]
  • Australian/New Zealand playwright Lorae Parry told part of Charlotte Badger's story in her play Vagabonds.[11]
  • In January 2013, Jack Hayter released Charlotte Badger on Audio Antihero records, a sympathetic re-telling of the story.[12]


  1. ^ "Oxford Dictionary entry of Charlotte Badger". Oxford University Press. 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  2. ^ a b "History of Immigration to New Zealand". Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  3. ^ Journal of Lesbian Studies Published 1997 Haworth Press Google Books Retrieved on 2008-06-16
  4. ^ a b c d e "Frontier of Dreams trivia site". Retrieved 2008-06-16. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d Ormsby, Mary Louise (1990). Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Retrieved 23 June 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ a b c d Alexander, Roy (26 October 1937). "Australia's Only Woman Pirate". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "Piratical Capture of the Venus Colonial Brig". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. 13 July 1806. p. 4. 
  8. ^ a b c "Swashbuckle – Real women pirates". Kelly Gardiner. 2006. Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  9. ^ New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806–1849.
  10. ^ "Charlotte Badger – the play". Indra Publishing. 24 April 2009. 
  11. ^ "Vagabonds". Playmarket. 
  12. ^ "Jack Hayter – Charlotte Badger/Glass Bells Chime". The Sound of Confusion. 9 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Charlotte Badger – Buccaneer by Angela Badger; Published 2002, isbsbooks. ISBN 0-9578735-2-2