Charlotte Badger is believed to have been one of the first two European women to settle in New Zealand. Sentenced to seven years of penal servitude in New South Wales in 1796, she gave birth to a daughter at the Parramatta female factory.
In April 1806 Charlotte, her daughter and her friend Catherine Haggerty left Port Jackson for Hobart on the Venus with a group of male convicts. At Port Dalrymple, on the north coast of Tasmania, the convicts mutinied and took control of the ship. Accounts vary, but Charlotte and Catherine appear to have been willing participants. One version of events has Badger dressed as a man and flogging the captain of the Venus.
After the mutineers fled across the Tasman the women, their partners and Charlotte's child were dropped off at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands. Haggerty died around April 1807 and it seems that their male companions left. Charlotte lived with a Ngāpuhi chief and refused to be brought back to live in European society on at least two occasions. One account claims that she went to America with a whaling captain, possibly becoming the first European woman to visit Tonga en route.
Charlotte Badger’s story has inspired several works of fiction. As for the Venus mutineers, they carried on down the coast, kidnapping two Ngāpuhi women who were sold to southern chiefs and subsequently eaten. The same fate befell the mutineers when their luck finally ran out.