Charlotte Badger (1778 – in or after 1818) is widely considered to be the first Australian female pirate. She was also one of the first two white female settlers in New Zealand.
Badger was born in 1778, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Badger. She was baptised on 31 July 1778. Her family was poor, and one day in 1796, she stole several guineas and a silk handkerchief in an attempt to support them, but was caught and arrested. She was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude in New South Wales.
Badger arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1801. In 1806 she was serving at the Parramatta female factory, during which she gave birth to a daughter.
In 1806, she travelled with her child aboard The Venus, with plans to become a servant in Van Diemens Land. The captain of the ship, Samuel Chase, was in the habit of flogging the women for entertainment, until his charges and crew mutinied. 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.
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. By April 1807, Hagerty had died and by the end of the year Lancashire and Kelly had also left.
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.
Some stories suggest that the other mutineers all fled but were eventually caught and hanged, 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.
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