Charlotte Badger was an emancipated convict who In 1806 was on the colonial brig, Venus, when it was taken over by some of the crew in the estuary of the Tamar River in Tasmania. Charlotte was briefly at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand where she was rescued by Captain Turnbull of the Indispensible, and eventually she made it back to Sydney. Unfortunately later writers have created the fiction that she had taken an active role in the mutiny.
Passenger manifest - Travelled with 294 other convicts
Charlotte Badger was born in 1778, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Badger. She was baptised at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire on 31 July 1778.
At the Assizes for the County of Worcester in June 1796: "Charlotte Badger, for feloniously breaking the house of Benjamin Wright, of Bromsgrove, and stealing thereout four guineas and a Queen Anne's half-crown". She and several other convicted criminals were capitally convicted, but were reprieved before the Judge left the city. Her conviction was reduced from death to transportation for seven years. She was eighteen years old at the time.
It was not until four years later, in 1800, that Charlotte boarded the convict vessel Earl Cornwallis. The journey lasted a gruelling 206 days before she arrived in New South Wales.
In 1803 Charlotte had served her sentence and was a free woman.
By April 1806 Charlotte had an infant child.
The mutiny on the Venus
The Venus was a vessel chartered by the colonial government to carry supplies of salted pork and other food to Port Dalrymple at Van Diemen’s Land. The Venus set sail from Sydney on 29 April 1806. On the ship was Charlotte Badger, who had an infant with her, and there was another woman, Catharine Hegarty who was sharing quarters with the first mate, Benjamin Burnet Kelly. It is unknown why Charlotte Badger was on the ship. During the voyage Catharine Hegarty exhibited strange behaviour when she threw overboard a small wooden box of personal papers that Captain Chace was delivering to one of the military commanders at Port Dalrymple. On 16 June the Venus reached the port in the Tamar River, on the northern coast of Tasmania. Soon after arriving, while Captain Chace was off the ship, first mate Kelly, the ship’s pilot David Evans, and an army corporal Richard Thompson took over the ship.
A public notice published in the Sydney Gazette on 20 July 1806 wrongly described the two women Badger and Hegarty as convicts (they were both emancipated) and implied they were among the mutineers. Charlotte Badger was described as “a convict, very corpulent, with full face, thick lips, and light hair, has an infant child."
The mutineers sailed the Venus across the Tasman and reached the Bay of Islands a few weeks later. Later the Indispensible, Captain Turnbull, visited New Zealand and picked up Charlotte Badger. In December 1806, the Elizabeth captained by Eber Bunker communicated with Captain Turnbull of the Indispensible, when their ships were off the north end of New Zealand . Captain Turnbull told him that the Venus had recently left the Bay of Islands, that two women and a child had been put on shore with Kelly and the convict Lancashire, together with some stores. One of the women (Catharine Hegarty) died on shore. Charlotte Badger and her child were on the Indispensible and Captain Bunker offered to take them on board, but Charlotte declined, and she was taken to Norfolk Island in the Indispensible.
There is evidence that after they had been landed from the Venus in the Bay of Islands, the two women had been kept in their own quarters and the chiefs had declared them strongly tapu.
Charlotte Badger was recorded as arriving at Sydney NSW on the Porpoise on 13 July 1807 from Norfolk Island.The passenger list has the remark: “Brought from New Zealand in the Indispensible and is one of the women who was in the Venus Schooner when ran away with from P. Dalrymple.”
In the February 1811 Muster for NSW she is listed as Charlotte Badger (Earl Cornwallis).
Marriage to Thomas Humphries
Marriage at St Phillips Church of England, Sydney: On 4 June 1811 Charlotte "Badgery" (Spinster, abode Sydney) to Thomas Humphries, (bachelor, abode Sydney , Private Invalid Company). They both marked the register with a cross. They were married by banns by William Cowper, Assistant Chaplain. Witnesses were John Hefferon (signed) and Sarah Hefferon (marked with a cross).
Her husband had arrived on the Recovery in July 1808. He was a Private in the regiment Royal Veteran Corps NSW. His duty in Australia began in March 1810 and ended September 1823. He had enlisted 14 years, and was at Emu Plains in October 1820.
In the 1814 muster Charlotte Badger, (Earl Cornwallis), Current Status: Free; Wife to a Veteran; Regiment: [Veterans Company], Mustered at, Parramatta on stores: with 1 child on stores.
In the 1822 muster she is Charlotte Bodger, Arrived per ship Cornwallis, Current Status: Free by Servitude; Residence: Windsor, "Wife of J Humphries".
In 1823 the Colonial Secretary's records show that her husband Thomas Humphries, formerly of the Royal Veteran Company was entitled to receive a grant of 100 acres of land.
In the 1825 muster she is Charlotte Badger, Trial Sentence: 7 years; Arrived per ship Earl Cornwallis, 1801; Current Status: Free by Servitude; Residence: Parramatta; Wife of Thomas Humphries. Her daughter is Maria Badger, Aged: 10; Born in the Colony, Residence: Parramatta; Daughter of Charlotte Badger. However her husband Thomas Humphries was listed at Sydney: Arrived per ship Recovery, 1807; Employment: Pensioner; Residence: Sydney.
On 5 July 1843, Charlotte Humphries was charged at Windsor, accused of stealing a blanket from Jane Oliver. Thomas Humphries, described as a householder, stood sureties for his wife. The charge against her was dismissed.
Her husband Thomas Humphries died 25 December 1843, buried 27 December 1843 at St Mathews Windsor age 92, 'pensioner', abode Windsor in the burial record.
A record of Charlotte's death has not been found.
The Mythology of the Woman Pirate
From 1895 various fictionalised newspaper articles related stories of how Charlotte became a "woman pirate" on the Venus in 1806:
In 1895 “Old Colonial Story,” in the Sydney Evening News had a highly fictionalised story about Charlotte Badger. The author “Te Matan” was later revealed to be the author Louis Becke: The following "facts" in the article are obviously incorrect:
During the voyage Captain Chace "found that the two convict ladies were entertaining Mr. Kelly, the mate, with a dancing exhibition"
"before the crew who were not in league with the mutineers could offer any resistance, they were set upon by the pilot, Thompson the soldier, Darra the cook, and the two women, all of whom were armed with pistols and swords."
"Kelly, Kitty Hegarty, Charlotte Badger and her child, Thompson, and two others, lived among the natives for some time."
"in 1808 she and the child were offered a passage to Port Jackson by Captain Bunker, but declined, saying she would rather live with the Maoris than return to New South Wales to be hanged."
"In May, 1826, the Lafayette was off an unknown island in the South Seas. ... a very big, stout woman with a little girl about eight years of age with her ... she was an English women who had escaped from captivity with the Maoris. No doubt this was the woman Badger"
Charlotte Badger, Wikipedia (accessed 7 April 2021) However there is some doubt: see the subtitle 'Controversy' which inaccurately has "neither Badger nor Hagerty were present on the Venus when it was captured".
Although reported in later accounts that she was in 1806 an inmate at the Parramatta Female Factory, and that Catherine Hagerty was a friend whom she had met at the Parramatta Female Factory, and that they were assigned as servants to a settler in Hobart, there does not appear to be evidence to support this. In 1806 the factory had not yet been built - the first female factory was above the Parramatta Gaol. It is possible she had her baby here, but records for the Female Factory have not survived from this time.
The birth registrations of her two children have not been found.
There is another soldier: Thomas Humphries, alias Thomas Humphreys Regiment: 48th Regiment; Rank: Private, Employment: Soldier; Enlisted: 1 May 1811 Military Company: 3 & 6 & 9 & 7 & 1; Arrived Arrival Status: Military; Duty in AUS began: 7 Aug 1817 Original Remarks:Enlisted 7 years, On ship to 7 Aug 1817, Detachment Newcastle from 25 Dec 1819 to 4 Jun 1824.
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↑FreeREG Baptism, BADGER, Charlotte. Parents Thomas and Ann Badger 31 Jul 1778, Worcestershire, Bromsgrove. File 40576.
↑ England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J39M-HJ3 : 11 February 2018, Charlotte Badger, 31 Jul 1778); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 321,124, 321,126.
↑ Told by Matara, the son of Te Pahi, to Joseph Banks in England in 1807 according to Anne Salmond, 'Between Worlds, Early Exchanges Between Māori and Europeans 1773–1815', quoted in Hardie p.87
↑ Arrivals & Departures NSW 1788-1825 - Free persons, crew, military and some convicts. Pub. on CD-ROM by Society of Australian Genealogists, 2011, Sydney.; Repository: SRNSW, reel 763; 4/1168a p.77, quoted in Biographical report for Charlotte BADGER, Biographical Database of Australia
↑ Arrival of the Porpoise from Norfolk Island 1807 'SYDNEY.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 19 July, p. 2. , viewed 06 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article627474
↑ Correction of date of reported arrival of the Porpoise: 1807 'SYDNEY.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 26 July, p. 2. , viewed 06 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article627479
↑ The muster incorrectly has her date of trial 1801. Quoted in Biographical report for Charlotte BADGER, Biographical Database of Australia
↑ St Philips Church of England Sydney, register, quoted in Biographical report for Charlotte BADGER, Biographical Database of Australia
↑ New South Wales. Department of Justice and Attorney General. NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. [data-base on-line]: 1230/1811 V18111230 3A and
219/1811 V1811219 5 HUMPHRIES THOMAS BADGERY CHARLOTTE CA (Sydney, St Phillip's)
↑ Reported as "Charles Humphreys" in the Sydney Morning Herald: 1843 'NEWS FROM THE INTERIOR.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 8 July, p. 2. , viewed 07 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12422502
1806 'PIRATICAL CAPTURE OF THE VENUS COLONIAL BRIG.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 13 July, p. 4. , viewed 06 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article627206