Charlotte Badger (with Jennifer Ashton)

This season on Vulgar History, we’re investigating the question How Do You Solve A Problem Like Marie Antoinette? To do so, we’re looking at the lives of women who lived during the revolutionary era of the 18th century.

This week, we’re headed to New Zealand (via England and Australia) to learn how the Industrial and American Revolutions contributed to the adventurous life of a convicted thief named Charlotte Badger. This week’s guest is Jennifer Ashton, author of Thief, Confict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger.


Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger by Jennifer Ashton

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Vulgar History Podcast

Charlotte Badger (with Jennifer Ashton)

May 29, 2024

Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. My name is Ann Foster and, in this series, we’re looking at revolutions around the world, including but not limited to the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and also just people whose lives themselves were revolutionary in different ways. Ultimately, the long thesis of this series – which is going to go on for, I have to say, a really long time, that’s why I’m taking my time – eventually, we’re going to be getting to Marie Antoinette herself. Technically, the name of this season is How Do You Solve A Problem Like Marie Antoinette? And I mean that literally because the issue with her life is that she eventually got caught up in this wave of revolutions that was happening all around the world, kind of like a wrong place-wrong time situation. But to understand the French Revolution, I think you you need to understand the American Revolution and the spirit of revolution that was happening all around the world in the 18th century which brings us to… New Zealand. [chuckles]

I’ve wanted to do a New Zealand episode for an incredibly long time because I’ve been doing this podcast now for four years and New Zealand listeners are some of the first people who reached out to me that made me realize, “Oh, there’s people listening to this show from all around the world.” I’ve wanted to cover a New Zealand story and it just took me a while to find one that fit into this show and that fit into this theme, and it actually fits really perfectly. 

So, I don’t want to spoil what we’re going to talk about in the episode coming up, but what I will say just as place-setting, so you’re like, “What does New Zealand have to do with revolutions of the 18th century?” Because New Zealand, AKA Aotearoa, is one of the last places in the sequence of, like, British colonial things, it was one of the last places that eventually became part of the British Empire, that didn’t happen until the 19th century. In the time period we’re looking at, New Zealand was 100% just the Māori people living there. The first white person to, or the first British explorer to head out there was in 1769 and the story we’re going to be talking about here takes place in the early 1800s. So, it was still kind of a place, we’ll talk about this in the episode, people kind of go to Aotearoa to trade maybe now and then but there were not settlements there. 

Again, what does this have to do with the rest of the season? Well, so… England used to send its convicts, people who had been arrested and convicted of crimes, to their colonies in America as a way to get as many white people in America as possible, to really develop that colonial project. But then when the American Revolution happened, the United States was like, “No thanks, please stop sending British convicts over here,” and England was like, “What are we going to do with all these convicts?” So, for a while, they literally just kept them floating around on a ship, I think in the River Thames just kind of like, “What do we do with all of them?” Then they’re like, “[gasps] Australia!” So, then they started sending these convicts to Australia. 

Australia, very close to New Zealand and that’s kind of the person who we talk about in this story, that’s how she wound up in New Zealand. It’s an interesting story in the sense of, she starts off in one place, she goes to another place, she winds up in another place, but Charlotte Badger is most remembered and best known, as much as she is known, for her significance to the history of New Zealand. 

I do want to give a special shout-out to Zoe, listener Zoe, who I randomly on my Instagram one day was like, “Is anyone from New Zealand, Aotearoa, able to help me with some questions?” And Zoe hopped right on, and she’s been so helpful with orienting me to understand various things about New Zealand history so I could prepare and do this episode. So, she’s now our official New Zealand cultural emissary. 

But I also learned so much about New Zealand history and about Charlotte Badger from today’s guest, who is Jennifer Ashton. Jennifer Ashton is an Auckland-based technical writer and editor. In 2012 she completed a PhD in History at the University of Auckland, and she is the author of the book Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger, which really came in clutch for me in learning this story because I found the story so fascinating. But then Charlotte Badger, like so many of the stories we’ve looked at on this podcast already, the kind of myth about her supersedes the actual truth about who she actually was. Jennifer Ashton really put in the work; she was literally flying around the world to find archives in various different countries to really track down who actually was Charlotte Badger. I’m so happy that Jennifer agreed to be on this podcast. So, please enjoy this episode about Charlotte Badger with special guest, Jennifer Ashton.


Ann: So, I’m joined today by Jennifer Ashton who is the author of Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger. Welcome, Jennifer.

Jennifer: Thank you Ann, it’s very nice to be here. 

Ann: So, my first question for you, just to set the scene: Do you remember when you first heard about Charlotte Badger?

Jennifer: There’s a small amount about her in a museum, the National New Zealand Museum Te Papa in Wellington and I thought, “That’s an interesting-sounding character.” And then I was writing a book, as a result of a doctorate about John Webster who was a trader, a timber trader, just north of where I lived in New Zealand. In order to write about him I had to do a lot of background reading about that part of the country, and she kept coming up. And because I was writing a biography of Webster, I was kind of interested in how you go about writing the life histories of people who don’t leave a lot of information behind, and she seemed like a particular challenge because there’s almost nothing. 

So yeah, I was interested in her both because she just sounded like she had this incredible life but also as a challenge about how would you actually write something about someone like her? So, that’s kind of how I hooked onto her originally.

Ann: And she’s got… I’ve talked about other people like this on the podcast before where there’s a legend or a mythology that builds up around a person that’s not always telling the story of the real person. She has that real dichotomy about her where there are these legends of this pirate but then actually, who was she really?

Jennifer: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a few general histories of New Zealand written by quite big-name academics in this country and they told the story about how she had taken part in this act of piracy in Sydney and then come to New Zealand. She had apparently led the mutiny and then she stayed in New Zealand for a while and married a local Māori chief and then possibly escaped and gone to Tonga or maybe even to the US. That story has been repeated quite a lot, as I say, in some fairly well-known history books. But when you dig into it, actually, a lot of that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, which is kind of where my book came in, I think. [chuckles]

Ann: Exactly, and that’s why I found your book so helpful because before I found that, I think I was coming across that same mythology and that just tweaked my senses where I was like, there’s no proof of any of this, this just sounds like a tall tale and a lot of it is.

Jennifer: A lot of it is, yeah.

Ann: So, if we’re going to go, kind of, through… It’s also interesting that her life, there’s a part in England, Australia, New Zealand, so it takes place in different places. Even the fact that she was born in England, I thought, “Oh! That’s surprising,” because I hadn’t thought of that. So, can you describe what you were able to find out about her earliest years?

Jennifer: Sure, yeah. I think the thing about Charlotte Badger is there is this mythology about her which is, as you say, a tall tale. But actually, to me, the actual story of her life, which you’re able to find through documentary evidence, is just as interesting. 

So, she’s born in 1778 in a town called Bromsgrove, which is now a commuter town for Birmingham in England. Her father was a labourer, he’s at the very bottom of English society and when she’s 18, she breaks into a house of a guy called Benjamin Wright, and she steals quite a lot of money from him, it’s a half-crown and I think about five guineas, so a pretty significant amount of money. She’s convicted of that, and she then spends four years in Worcester jail to Australia because this is the early days of convict transportation to New South Wales, so that’s where she’s ultimately headed, and she’s convicted in 1796.

Ann: So, I’m just thinking, she’s a young teenager at this time?

Jennifer: She’s about 18 when she breaks in so she’s quite… Yeah, an interesting thing about that is housebreaking was a crime that was more normally carried out by men. There was something a bit brazen about that crime coming from such a young woman. So yeah, she does her four years in jail and then she’s put on a transport ship, and she arrives in Sydney in 1801.

Ann: So, I want to talk a bit about her, you mentioned that this was a brazen crime, especially for a young woman, the severity of her punishment seems so extreme to me, even just four years in jail. And you have some theories in your book, you talk about why she might have done this and why the punishment was what it was.

Jennifer: Yeah, there’s a bit of speculation about her relationship with Benjamin Wright. There are a couple of writers who think she may have been employed by him which is possible that she’d been like a house servant and that possibly that relationship had broken down. Or maybe he was just a local, wealthy person, and the family was in desperate need of money. We can’t really be sure why she commits the crime. But she then fails to benefit from any kind of discretion that’s built into the justice system. So, at any point, Benjamin Wright could have said, “Give me the money back and we’ll forget about it,” or the grand jury could have yeah, “Nnh, no. We’re not going to charge her.” So, there are all these steps along the way that someone could have said, “No, we’re not going to charge this young woman.” She doesn’t benefit from any of that discretion. So, there’s obviously something about her, there’s something about the crime she’s committed that is taken really seriously. 

At the time, there was this thing called the “Bloody Code,” in operation in England which, kind of, property crimes were viewed extremely seriously, and I think it was partly the result of the coming Industrial Revolution, people were acquiring all these goods for the first time, and they didn’t want them stolen. So, if somebody stole your hard-earned money or your goods then it was taken really seriously. And when she was convicted, she actually got the death penalty, like a lot of people in the category she was originally sentenced to death and then the judge had to write off to the King and ask for the royal mercy. So, she’s pardoned and then she can just be transported for the rest of her life and that’s what happened to her and that’s what happened to thousands of people. But as I say, in order to get to that point, she sort of had to miss out on all these other discretionary steps where she could have just been sent home with a slap on the wrist.

Ann: So, the Industrial Revolution is kind of coming. At this time in England, as I understand it, there is general unrest, just because of widespread poverty and things like this. She committed this crime, presumably, because she and her family were in need of money or maybe there is some form of vengeance, maybe she’d been let go from that position. So, she was in a real hard spot. She would have known too, that this would be the punishment if she was caught, and it seems like she was caught quite quickly.

Jennifer: Quite quickly. Yeah, I used to try and figure that one out and I just kind of thought, you know, young people often don’t have that sense of, “I better not do this because there will be consequences.” At the time, you’re not really thinking of the consequences, particularly if, as you say, you’re angry, you’re desperate. If something’s going on then you, kind of, you know, you’re just focusing on what you think you need to do next. 

But yeah, you’re right about the Industrial Revolution as well, and there was this explosion in England of the young population, there were a lot of young people in the country at the time and I think the authorities were kind of worried about them and how to control them. So, one of the reasons I think she doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt is that they’re worried about young people. She also doesn’t benefit from the fact that she’s got a male accomplice because if she’d had a male accomplice they might have said, “Oh well, we’ll punish him but not her because she’s under his influence.” She acts alone. So, she’s a young person, she’s done something outrageous, and she’s a young woman acting alone so that’s particularly scary. 

Ann: And at this time, the whole concept of sending prisoners to Australia, what was the intent of that? People were sent to Australia, not to be returned after necessarily, it was just kind of…

Jennifer: No.

Ann: Was it partially to build up the colony there?

Jennifer: Yeah. So, at the time, there wasn’t the concept that we have these days of rehabilitation. So, we send people to prison, and we try and rehabilitate them while they’re in there and we think there’s some kind of chance of doing that. At the time, there was no idea that these people could be reformed. They were kind of seen as criminal types and the best you could do was just get rid of them. 

So, previously, they had been going to the American colonies and after the American War of Independence, that wasn’t an option anymore. So, for a while, they actually kept men, I think exclusively, on these ships that were moored just off the coast in the Thames, these holding pens really. And then after James Cook’s visit, voyages of discovery, he came upon Botany Bay in New South Wales and Joseph Banks, who was the botanist on his first voyage came back and said, “There’s a really good place that you could consider setting up as the new convict destination.” So, that’s what they did in 1788. 

Yeah, the idea is, “This is the new place where we can just offload all our criminal types,” but there is this discussion in some historical circles, brilliant historical writers, there has been this discussion about, what was the point of setting up New South Wales? Was it just to dump these people? Or was it to set up this colony in the South Pacific that could kind of compete with France because Britain and France were having this kind of global contest at the time? The idea was, “Okay, maybe if we stake a claim in Australia or on the Australian continent, that will kind of keep the French at bay.” And I think it’s kind of doing both of those things, it suits both of those purposes. It’s definitely a long way away, those people are never coming back if you send your convicts there, most of them, the overwhelming majority will just never come back. But also, it allows Britain to kind of, set up camp in the South Pacific as well.

Ann: And in terms of just, it’s so far away, you really delve into this in your book in a way that I found… You described how long it took for this ship to get from England to Australia and it was something like a year, right?

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s months. I think the ship that Charlotte was on, they set out at the end of 1800, and they got there in June 1801. That was kind of the case for a long time, even my own family came decades later, and it was about a six-month journey on a sailing ship, and it was hazardous even in the mid-to-later 19th century. But at the time that Charlotte Badger was heading out on those convict ships, it was really dangerous because the early convict transportation ships were, they weren’t really subject to very much government regulation at all so the government would hire these ships, often East Indiaman, so they were the ships built for the East India Company to travel from England to either Bombay or Calcutta, so they were really big, big ships. But they were kind of privately operated so there wasn’t a lot of oversight in terms of what was happening. 

The first fleet that went to Australia arrived in January 1788, and the second fleet I think was 1789 or 1790, I can’t quite remember, but it’s not that long after and it has a terrible time. There’s a shocking mortality rate on some of the– I think there’s three ships in the second fleet and one of them in particular has just a shocking mortality rate. And that kind of continues and the ship that Charlotte Badger was on, the one that had gone just before her, the Hillsborough, I think it was typhoid or something, typhoid or typhus, had gone through everybody on that ship and again, there’d been this shocking mortality rate. So, it was extremely dangerous. You got on that ship, and you didn’t actually know that you were going to make it to the other end. 

I think she was on board a ship called the Earl Cornwallis, it was taking supplies to the new colony at Sydney Cove and a lot of those supplies got ruined because the seawater got in. The route that they took, they would leave England, they would go down the Spanish-Portuguese coast, and then they’d shoot over to Rio de Janeiro, and then they go down to Cape Town, go around the Cape of Good Hope and head across the Southern Ocean. So, it was a pretty precarious, dangerous trip for her and for all convicts really.

Ann: And in addition, in terms of the danger on the ship as well, it’s far more men than women so there’s also a sexual danger as well.

Jennifer: Yes, that’s right. Particularly with the crew, I think, there was a bit of, yeah, predation I think going on. Some of those relationships were probably consensual but, you know, I think… Yeah, there was a bit that you didn’t really have a choice if you wanted to survive on that ship, you had to give into the crew. There were a range of dangers that you faced, particularly as a woman on those ships.

Ann: This is where… Again, you mention this in your book but just picturing Charlotte Badger who is this young woman, by now she’s in her early twenties, she’s been in jail for four years and then suddenly she’s taken so far out of her lived experience, first of all, just being on a ship, chances are she’s never been on a ship, and then for so long. Everything she was brought up knowing is not useful anymore, she’s in this completely different world. So, it’s impressive that she survived that sea voyage at all, and she did.

Jennifer: Yeah, and she did. Yeah. and then you get off at the other end.

Ann: And you’re in Australia!

Jennifer: You’re in Australia. I don’t know how many of your listeners have been to Australia, but Sydney is pretty different from Worcestershire. [chuckles] The climate is harsh, it’s obviously hot, they get flash flooding; the early colony really struggles to feed people because they try to grow crops and those crops get destroyed by flash flooding. So yeah, again, you get off the ship and you think you’ve dealt with the dangers of being at sea and then you get to your destination and all of a sudden there are all these other troubles and dangers that you have to deal with.

Ann: And I got the sense that no one there really knew what to do. It’s not that you got there and there was this well-established thriving colony that you could join. No one had been there for very long because it was still a pretty new thing.

Jennifer: Yeah, I think the colony by 1801 is beginning to put down roots but certainly in the 1790s, yeah, Sydney had had a really troubled birth, I think. Again, in terms of just sustaining itself and really struggling to sustain itself. Things are getting a bit better but there’s also ongoing conflict with, you know, the people who are already living there, the Aboriginal people who are already living there. There’s raids on settler outposts, so yeah, it is a difficult place to be.

Ann: And can you just explain what the prisoners were doing there? They were sent to Australia because it was just seen as “You’re prisoners, you’re criminals, we don’t want you in England.” But once they get to Australia, they’re not really put in a jail, they’re put to labour to clear the land and things?

Jennifer: That’s right. So, it’s not like a prison farm. It’s more like a… Well, I suppose it’s more like a free-range prison farm. [Ann chuckles] So because the colonial government is not particularly strong, there isn’t a big bureaucracy there to organize people, that sort of comes later. Things do become much more regimented in New South Wales but early on, yeah, people are put to labour, people have to perform certain tasks in order to keep the colony going, but you also have quite a lot of freedom. Once you’ve done the hours that are required of you, you can go off and work for yourself and earn some money for yourself and sell your labour to maybe one of the free settlers who needs some extra help.

So, it’s this weird dichotomy in a way that you’ve been sent to the other side of the world, you have been banished from your home, you have been labelled a criminal, but you get to this place, and yeah, life is hard, but you do have a measure of freedom as well.

Ann: It’s funny to me. Understanding that it seems like the concept of your punishment is just, you have to be in Australia, that’s your punishment. But once you’re there you have some freedom.

Jennifer: Yeah, you can get on with it.

Ann: Yeah, which is interesting because she is eventually freed.

Jennifer: Yeah, she’s eventually, I could never quite figure out when this happened, but she is eventually freed by servitude. So, she gets convicted for a seven-year sentence, I think the sentence actually goes on longer than that, possibly because just nobody gets around to doing the paperwork. But eventually, by I think… I forget which census it is, but by about 1815, 1820 she’s recorded as being free by servitude, so she’s done her time and she’s a free woman.

Ann: And she’s also had a child.

Jennifer: Yeah, I think in all, she had possibly three children. But only one seems to have survived and her name was Maria or Mariah, and she was born I think about 1811, 1812. But earlier on, she had given birth to a child who doesn’t seem to have survived and that child may have died in New Zealand. 

Ann: Because now in her story, we’re getting up to the part that the mythology is all built about which is she goes on a ship to New Zealand.

Jennifer: She gets on a ship to what’s now Tasmania, what was then Diemen’s Land, so that island off the south coast of Australia. So, what’s happening is Hobart, which is the capital of Tasmania these days, it was being established as a new town, a satellite town for Sydney, and they needed people to go there, they were sending members of the marine corps to set up this new settlement and the marine corps needed help of various kinds. I think, again it’s really impossible to tell exactly why she was going but the best guess is she was going to act as domestic help in that new settlement. So yeah, she got on board a ship called the Venus and they were headed ultimately for Hobart, but things go awry on the way. [chuckles]

Ann: And this is where stories vary on what exactly happened.

Jennifer: So, what we can establish from the man who was in charge of the ship, he was master, captain, his name was Samuel Rodman Chace, he leaves behind an account of what he saw happen. So, they set out, he’s taking supplies from Sydney to Hobart for the new settlement, he’s also taking a few passengers and he’s got a crew on board. His first mate is a man called Benjamin Kelly. 

They set out and things begin to go wrong right from the start. They spend a couple of weeks at a place called Twofold Bay, which is on the New South Wales coast and Chace seems to be interested in reclaiming iron from a ship that’s wrecked there. But relationships start to break down, these tensions between Chace and the crew, they eventually set out for Hobart. Chace records that there’s a woman on board called Catharine Hegarty and she’s becoming quite feisty, quite difficult. She throws a box of papers overboard; it seems like she might be in a relationship with Kelly and possibly she’s taking his side in Kelly’s arguments with Chace. 

And they get to the Tasmanian coast, a place called Port Dalrymple and they anchor there. Chace goes on shore to report to the local authorities and while he’s away, the crew basically mutiny and steal the ship and head for New Zealand. That much we can establish. But what actually happened on board and who led the mutiny is the bit where it all becomes a bit speculative and where Charlotte Badger’s role has been the subject of mythologizing.

Ann: And what was the status of New Zealand at this point? Because Australia, prison colonies are springing up there but what’s happening in New Zealand?

Jennifer: So, New Zealand is 100% controlled by the local Māori population, various tribes, what we refer to as iwi, they are in control of New Zealand and there are no white settlements or Pākehā settlements, there are, however, visiting whaling ships. So, the whaling and sealing industries are getting underway around the New Zealand coast. So, whaling ships would go to Sydney or Norfolk Island, which is slightly north of New Zealand, between New Zealand and Australia. And then they would come and fish, as they called it, around the coast of New Zealand. Some Māori chiefs, particularly in the northern part of the country, they were interested in cultivating relationships with these whaling captains and trading with them so they would offer them safe harbour, they would offer them water, food, shelter. That’s kind of what was happening in New Zealand at the time. So, when the Venus sets out for New Zealand, they know that there are these places in the north of the country where you can get shelter.

Ann: I was just curious why that was their destination, this mutinous crew. So, they had a plan.

Jennifer: They had a plan. I think Benjamin Kelly had been onboard another ship that had visited the Bay of Islands, so this is the place in the north of New Zealand that was a particularly favoured spot for these whaling ships and I’m pretty sure he had been on a ship that had visited the bay so he kind of knew what awaited them if they came here.

Ann: Do we know where exactly they touched down? Was it in one of these ports?

Jennifer: Yeah, so it’s in the Bay of Islands, it’s a place I’m pretty sure it’s a place called Wairoa Bay which is a lovely place, even today, it’s really lovely. Yeah, it could potentially offer them everything they needed but they were going to have to live in a Māori community under the protection of a Māori chief and he was going to have to agree to accept them and offer them shelter because in 1806 when all this was happening, it wasn’t possible to come to New Zealand as a European sailor and not live on the terms of the local leadership.

Ann: And they wouldn’t have been able to return to Australia or to England because of the mutiny? I would presume. 

Jennifer: That’s right. It’s kind of, for most of them in particular the men, people like Benjamin Kelly, although he was American, so he had a way out I guess but for a lot of the other people on board, it was a one-way trip.

Ann: So, Charlotte, and her child, just so people are clear, right, she had a young child with her during all of this?

Jennifer: She does, yeah. There’s a public notice issued in the wake of the mutiny listing the people on board and she’s listed in that public notice as having an infant child. I can’t find any record of that child actually being born, that’s not necessarily unusual. But yeah, she had a small child with her.

Ann: So, explain what happens because she stays behind in New Zealand, but the others leave, or something like that?

Jennifer: Yeah, so they get to the Bay of Islands and pretty much, they split into two groups. About half a dozen of them, Benjamin Kelly, Catharine Hegarty, Charlotte Badger, another convict called John William Lancashire and potentially two cabin boys, they get off the ship in the bay and I think that’s because, as I say, Kelly had been there before, he knew, I think, that this would be a good place to stop. The rest of the crew say, “No, no, we’re not interested in stopping, we’re going to keep going.” So, another sailor takes charge of the ship, of the Venus, and it heads off down the coast and it’s never seen again. We just don’t know what happens to the Venus, but yeah, that’s the last we ever hear of them.

Ann: So, Charlotte, correct me if I’m wrong, but she’s maybe the first European woman to live in New Zealand? 

Jennifer: There’s actually, she and Catharine Hegarty are the first European women to live amongst Māori. About ten years earlier, there had been another couple of women who had ended up shipwrecked at the very bottom of the South Island in a place called Dusky Sound, but they don’t interact with Māori. They’re there for a few months but there’s no record of any kind of interaction with Māori. But Charlotte Badger and Catharine Hegarty are the first European women to live in a local community.

Ann: And they’re there for a year or so?

Jennifer: They’re there for, Charlotte Badger is there, I think, for about six to eight months, yeah. And Catharine Hegarty, at some point, dies. Inside that six-to-eight-month window, she’s recorded as having died. We don’t know how, and we don’t know why, and we don’t know exactly when.

Ann: I mean, I guess, how much can be known? But we know she’s living amongst the Māori for six, seven months. I’m just thinking back to this young woman born to this poor family in England, she’s on yet another unexpected, unprecedented journey for someone like her and she again survives.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I think going to Sydney would be strange enough; the change in climate, the change in the physical environment, the plants, the sky at night is different. Everything in Sydney would have been different but you’re still living in a European settlement surrounded by people who dress like you, who look like you, who speak the same language as you. You encounter Aboriginal people probably, but they’re at arm’s length. And then she comes to New Zealand and she’s living in an environment that is again even more different, again the physical environment is different, the climate is different. But you’re now living amongst people who don’t speak the same language as you, who don’t look like you, who don’t dress like you, and you’re living on their terms, it’s their community that you’re living in and you have to just fit in somehow, even though communication would be a barrier, you just have to kind of do your very best to fit in. 

I’ve thought a lot about how strange that would be and what a modern-day equivalent would be, and it would kind of be like going into the depths of the Amazon rainforest and finding one of those communities that don’t have a lot of contact with the outside world and kind of having to live there for six months. That’s the equivalent. So yeah, if you’ve come from a small industrializing town in England and this is where you end up, it’s an extraordinary journey.

Ann: I’m thinking too, in terms of a contemporary person, it’s hard for me to think of, just in terms of the level of– not specifically education but in our world today, there’s documentaries and videos, YouTube, I’ve seen what other cultures are like even if I’ve not lived amongst them. But she wouldn’t have ever known, she would just show up there and she can’t be like, “Oh, this is kind of like this.” To her, it would just be… She has no frame of reference.

Jennifer: There’s no frame of reference, that’s right. Like I say, it’s very, very hard to get your head around how different it would have been for her.

Ann: And she is able… Someone comes to get her eventually and she does choose to leave, she’s not… She chooses to leave. I guess she could have stayed but…

Jennifer: Yeah, so they arrive in New Zealand about July 1806 and around Christmas time, there is a captain whose name is Eber Bunker, and he shows up because he’s heard about this group that’s living at the bay and I think he knows that they’re from the Venus. So, he calls in there and he sees her, he meets her. Catharine Hegarty has by this point died, but he offers Charlotte Badger a return voyage to Sydney, and she says, “No thanks, I’ll stay here and take my chances.” But at some point, not very long after that, another whaling captain shows up and she’s changed her mind. He’s on a ship called the Indispensible, and he takes her to Norfolk Island and that’s how she leaves New Zealand and that’s, I think, early 1807. So, maybe January, February 1807.

Ann: This is, again, there’s so much… Because we don’t know anything about her inner life, there’s no diary or anything like that. But why would she say no and then say yes to the next person? What’s changed? It’s so fascinating to think about.

Jennifer: Yes, I wonder whether it’s something to do with the infant child that she’s got because when she gets on the Indispensible, there’s a record, a very brief record of her arriving in Norfolk Island, or actually no, it’s leaving Norfolk Island and there is no child recorded, it’s just her. And I wonder whether maybe between Bunker offering her the passage and the next captain (I think it’s Turnbull offering her the passage) maybe her child had died and so she was completely alone at that point. Everybody else had gone; the two men, Kelly and John William Lancashire, they had left on different ships, Catharine Hegarty had died, and it was just her that’s left. So, maybe it’s something to do with that. But yeah, again, it’s one of those imponderable things. What did change for her?

Ann: This is what’s so interesting about the research you’ve done and following the life of this woman’s unusual life for this time and place. You just know, she went on this ship then she departed here. Piecing it together, every turn is just so surprising and intriguing.

Jennifer: That’s right. There’s just little scraps of information though. So, you can’t even know what her internal life was, you can’t really know why she made the decisions that she did. But you know, tracing her around the world, you have to assume she was a fairly remarkable person in order to survive all of this, you know? Yeah, there must have been a level of bravery and courage going on there in order just to get through it all. But yeah, the information is very, very sketchy and she didn’t leave anything. I think she was illiterate in terms of being able to write, I don’t know whether she could read, but she couldn’t write. So, there wasn’t a possibility of leaving anything behind. But yeah, I think what we do know about her is impressive for sure.

Ann: And her story continues on although she’s most famous for the mutiny situation, the time she spent among the Māori and then there were some legends that she went to Tonga, or she went somewhere else, but you’ve found that she returned and married someone.

Jennifer: Yes. So, this is where what I wrote about and what you would tend to read in a New Zealand history book, this is where it diverges. This legend grows up that she stays in New Zealand, she doesn’t leave after six or eight months and return to Sydney. The story is that she stays in New Zealand, she marries a high-ranking chief and eventually, I think it’s around 1820, she’s supposed to have left New Zealand and potentially ended up in Tonga, is spotted in Tonga by an American whaling ship in 1826 and then maybe makes her way to America. And actually, none of that happened. She did get picked up by the Indispensible and then taken to Norfolk Island and then from Norfolk Island she returns to Sydney.

Ann: And at this point, she’s a person who has had quite an adventurous life so far, but she is now a free woman, she’s no longer a convict. She gets married and she kind of, for her, I think probably it’s a bit of a relief, she can now just live a quieter life.

Jennifer: Yeah, so she gets back to Sydney in 1807, not sure what happens for the next three or four years but in 1811, she marries a soldier who is a bit older than her, and his name is Thomas Humphries. He is posted to various parts on the outskirts of Sydney; if anybody knows Sydney, Parramatta is now reasonably inner-city but at the time, it was on the outskirts, it was a frontier settlement really. They spent a lot of time in Parramatta, a place called Windsor. He’s part of a garrison that is protecting Sydney from what is basically becoming a war between the colonial government and Aboriginal people as the settlement spreads out across the plain. So, they become indirectly involved in this, kind of, war of conquest. 

Ann: Well, especially as the wife of this military person, I guess I said her life gets quieter, but I guess I mean she’s no longer being forced onto boats into unfamiliar places. [chuckles]

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s much more domestic even if there’s still a level of danger to it.

Ann: And she’s got a partner now, she’s got a husband, it’s not just her figuring things out on her own. And he’s situated high enough in society that that would have some level of security for her, I would think.

Jennifer: Yeah, he leaves the army, he retires in 1822. I think his battalion is disestablished and he’s offered a piece of land. So, they have the opportunity to become farmers, smallholders, and I don’t think that ever really comes about for whatever reason. His application kind of gets lost or whatever. So, they end up living in Windsor which, at the time, was this frontier town but they kind of disappear from the record for quite a long time. I think they’re just living a kind of settled, pretty normal, domestic life, which yeah, for her, is probably the longest period of settlement that she’s had. 

Ann: And it seems in a way, her life, there were all these adventures in the middle, but at this point I think it’s turned out a bit better than it probably would have staying back in England as this poor person.

Jennifer: Yeah, well I think this is one of the things that you find when you look at convicts and one of the questions asked is yeah, they got chucked out of their home country but actually in the end, was it better for them? Did they benefit? And certainly, some people did. There are some convicts who become very wealthy people; they serve their sentence, they’re freed and then they kind of get in on the whaling and sealing game or they become landholders, they build up landholdings. Thomas and Charlotte didn’t get that far but, yeah, I think you can certainly mount an argument that her life may very well have turned out better in Australia than it would have if she’s stayed in Bromsgrove.

Ann: Was it during her lifetime that the myth started being built about her and the mutiny or was it later?

Jennifer: It was later. So, we don’t know when she died, there’s absolutely no record of her death but in the 1890s, the myth about her starts to grow. So, there’s a writer of tall tales called Louis Becke, he’s kind of the first one that I could find who took the account that Samuel Rodman Chace had left behind of what went on on the Venus when it was stolen, and he takes that story and kind of embellishes it. So, Rodman Chace doesn’t mention Charlotte Badger at all, he does mention Catharine Hegarty, but he doesn’t mention Charlotte Badger at all. But Louis Becke does and he kind of has the two women taking an equal part in the mutiny. It’s being led by Benjamin Kelly but they’re definitely active participants in the taking of the ship. So, that’s kind of where it starts, and I think he’s the one who suggests that she may have gone to Tonga as well. So, he’s kind of the guy who starts building this myth about her and what might have happened to her when she comes to New Zealand and afterwards.

Ann: So, during her life then, she wouldn’t have been living with any level of notoriety, necessarily.

Jennifer: No, she’s a complete unknown really. One of the questions I had was when she gets back to Sydney, why isn’t she charged with mutiny? They know she’s listed in this public notice when the Venus is taken and yet when she gets to Norfolk Island and gets back to Sydney, the authorities don’t try and charge her with escaping because escape from the colony wasn’t unusual and it would be punished and yet, they didn’t. They didn’t pursue her and I kind of wonder whether they decided, “Well, she’s just this poor woman and she got carried away and it was the men who led the mutiny so we’ll just kind of let her off.” So, yeah, she slips back into Sydney society, and she disappears really. For the rest of her life, she’s just a common or garden, you know, released convict.

Ann: And I guess being in a place where so much of the European population there are former convicts, there’s maybe not the same stigma there would be having that status back in England.

Jennifer: Yeah, I think most of the people there would be former convicts so yes, if you’re going to be a former convict then you’re probably better off staying in New South Wales surrounded by people, yeah, just like you. And with the opportunity to make a life of your own there.

Ann: And then she lives seemingly decades, there’s no records so presumably there’s nothing too out of the ordinary happening to her. But then when she’s in her sixties, she’s suddenly charged with another theft. Is it a theft again?

Jennifer: Yes, it’s really strange. Again, it’s really hard to know why but it seems to me like it’s one of those things where it’s a relationship that’s gone wrong and yeah, I think it’s a neighbour, potentially, who charges her with stealing something. She’s found not guilty of that so that’s the good news. But yeah, it’s really odd, decades really go by and then all of a sudden there’s this black mark on her record again, yeah.

Ann: It’s another one of those things, everything about her story is just so intriguing, these details we have. So, for me, I’m just trying to fill in the blanks. What could have happened? Was she secretly a criminal this whole time or did somebody find out she had this record and so that’s why they charged? I don’t know. There’s so many reasons why that could have happened.

Jennifer: Yeah, I sort of wonder well, in order to survive the kind of life she had, did she have to be feisty, did she have to be, did there have to be an underlying level of bolshiness about her? And did it eventually just come out in various ways? Because I’m not sure that you could be kind of, meek and entirely submissive and live the kind of life she had and survive it, really. So, maybe she just was a bit feisty and occasionally that went wrong, you know, in her dealings with other people. Again, it’s impossible to tell, it’s frustrating that you can’t tell.

Ann: I think that’s such a good point that her personality, just based on things that happened to her and the things that she did, you can’t but come away with a sense of this feisty person, this very strong-willed person that otherwise, this whole life, this sequence of events doesn’t make sense.

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. I think breaking into someone’s house when you’re 18, you know, I think you only do that if there’s something about you that is willing to, kind of, break the norms of society and be a bit feisty. And maybe in some ways, that did just stick with her her whole life, for good and for bad.

Ann: And what is her role nowadays in terms of New Zealand history?

Jennifer: Yeah, she’s often written about as one of the first white or Pākehā women to come to New Zealand, that’s kind of become her status. But she makes a kind of very fleeting appearance so if people have written general histories of New Zealand, if they’re writing about the early contact period, the pre-colonial period, they’ll kind of talk about her as an early emissary or there’s a term that we use here, Pākehā Māori, and you get these sorts of people (I’m sure you have them in Canada as well) where they’re white people who make really early contact with Native populations, Indigenous populations, and they live with those communities. They become emissaries and contact points between white traders and Indigenous people. She’s kind of talked about in those terms as being one of these Pākehā Māori. I’m not actually sure that she did fulfil that role but that’s kind of how she’s talked about, as being an early cultural emissary and one of the very first white women to come here.

Ann: And her status, do you think she’s more, she’s not super well-known in general, is my impression. When I started researching this, I asked my listeners, “Is anyone in New Zealand, I just want to understand this a bit better.” And my New Zealand emissary [laughs] ambassador had never heard of her. So, I’m just guessing, I don’t know how… But where she’s better known, it’s probably more New Zealand than Australia?

Jennifer: Definitely yeah. She doesn’t really have any kind of status in Australia which is sort of odd because the two places that really beefed up the Charlotte Badger myth about living in New Zealand for a long time, going to Tonga, being the pirate, being the woman who led the mutiny… So, Louis Becke, he was Australian, and then the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1930s, it writes this incredible story about how she was the mutiny leader. So, the myth itself about her formed mostly in Australia and yet, she really only appears in New Zealand history books and it’s, again, because she was supposed to be one of the very first Pākehā people to live here.

Ann: I had messaged you, I think, when we were planning this discussion. I have this scale where all the women we talk about on the podcast, I give them scores out of 10 in four different categories. I never know what these numbers are going to be, especially when I have someone like you who is an expert in this topic. [Jennifer chuckles] So, the first category, and these are all from 0 to 10, how Scandalous do you think she was? And that’s within the context of her lifetime.

Jennifer: Yeah, of her lifetime, yeah. That’s a good one. I mean, I think she has… She has two really scandalous periods. One is where she does actually break into the house and steal the money and the other is where she does take part in that mutiny. Even if she’s not an active participant, she’s onboard, you know, a ship that takes part in the mutiny. But then she has long periods of domestic boredom. So, I would probably give her a 6.

Ann: Mm-hm, because the scandal of the pirate and all that, that came later and that’s not really her.

Jennifer: It’s not really her although… Yeah, she didn’t lead them mutiny, but she definitely was on board, and she probably had the opportunity to get off and she didn’t.

Ann: Proximity to mutiny I think is inherently…

Jennifer: Proximity to mutiny and deciding not to get off the boat because a couple of crew members got thrown off the boat and sent back to shore and I think maybe if she’d said, “I don’t really want to be part of this,” she might have had the option to go with them and she didn’t. So, yeah.

Ann: Definitely. She’s not without scandal in her life.

Jennifer: She’s not without scandal, yeah. 

Ann: The next category I call Scheminess and that’s just being a person with a plan. I mean, she had the scheme to break into the house not a good scheme, clearly. But that also speaks to just resiliency and flexibility and being able to get through unusual and unexpected circumstances and I think she had that.

Jennifer: She definitely had that. I give her an 8 on that one.

Ann: I mean she was thrown into completely unfamiliar situations, all in a row, and she came out of all of them.

Jennifer: I mean every phase of her life really has a series of pretty extraordinary challenges, even the boring domestic part. She’s still living on a frontier in Australia, it’s a harsh environment and it’s an environment that for white settlers, yeah, it’s a frontier really. So, she’s living in a series of new and challenging environments. 

Ann: And I think too, I’m just thinking, I mean, I know much better the history of settlers in Canada or in the United States, but that’s a lot of people who came here on purpose, who chose a life of adventure. She never chose this, she just kind of was put there.

Jennifer: Yeah. I mean I guess you could maybe argue that she, breaking into the house, she’s sort of choosing a path, but she didn’t think that that was… Nobody commits a crime thinking they’re going to get caught, do they? So, yeah, it’s a series of things that happened to her.

Ann: And it just so happened her constitution, her personality actually was very well-suited to this.

Jennifer: Yeah, potentially. I think in order to get through it all, you definitely have to be flexible and resilient. I think that’s the word that I kept thinking about in relation to her, she must have been an extremely resilient person.

Ann: Absolutely. And even talking about the children she had and the children who died, that requires enormous resiliency.

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely yeah.

Ann: So, the next category is her Significance. Specifically, her significance to New Zealand history, to Australian history. I think, and this is an interesting one to consider because part of what I really appreciated about your book was to take a person who there’s not a lot of biographies of a criminal woman from this period in English history but just because her life became so extraordinary, there are these records. So, to me, I find her significance almost representing a class of people who we never hear about.

Jennifer: Yes. And I think, yeah, to an extent, that’s why she was added to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography partly because she is this early cultural representative. But also, because she represents a class of woman who comes later and that’s the single working-class woman. And yeah, she is an early example of those single women who chose to get on a boat and come to the other side of the world, often to be domestic servants because that represented a better option than staying in Britain. And yeah, I think you can see her, even though she didn’t come by choice, she was forced, you can see that yeah, she’s an early representative of that young, independent woman.

Ann: So, on a scale of 0 to 10, where would you put her for Significance? 

Jennifer: For Significance. [sighs] I mean, I probably would overstate her significance, but you know…

Ann: You’re the guest. [laughs]

Jennifer: Yeah… Again, I think I’d probably go for, like, a 7, I think, around there. Because yeah, like you say, she does represent a class of working-class women who did come in numbers and contributed to the country so, yeah.

Ann: She’s in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, you said. 

Jennifer: She is. She is indeed.

Ann: Which I’m sure she never would have imagined.

Jennifer: No, that’s the thing. On one hand, she’s incredibly obscure, she’s born at the very bottom of society, she’s illiterate, she lives this obscure life and yet, she’s in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography because on one hand, she’s not obscure, she lives this incredible life. There’s this real dichotomy about her.

Ann: So, the final category, I call it the Sexism Bonus where it’s just, how much did sexism hold her back? It’s a way to give people more points. I don’t know, I think if a man had broken into a house, maybe he would have been put to death, or maybe he would have been also sent to Australia. I don’t know how much her gender…

Jennifer: Yeah, that is a good one. It’s almost like the opposite. The sexism thing should have worked in her favour. If she had had a male accomplice, she would have been excused and women were often in the justice system it was like, “Oh well, we have to make excuses for her because she’s been led astray.” So, it’s almost like she, yeah, she kind of didn’t benefit from sexism in a way.

Ann: And then just in her life, I don’t know, I would think, I’m sure it was very scary being on the original convict ship being surrounded by men, she had children, we don’t know the circumstances of their conception. But again, I don’t see sexism necessarily being a major force working against her in her story.

Jennifer: No. As I say, in a way, I sort of wonder, if one of the men who’d been on board the Venus had made it back to Sydney, would he have been charged with being an escaped convict? And maybe he would have and maybe she wasn’t because she was just the poor little woman who’d been let astray. So, maybe there’s an extent to which the sexism of the time helped her to kind of, you know… In that scenario maybe it kind of worked in her favour, I don’t know.

Ann: Even choosing to stay among the Māori, I don’t know being a woman, if she was treated in a certain way that was positive or negative, versus if a man had stayed.

Jennifer: Yeah, there’s one account says that she and Catharine Hegarty, when they were at the bay, they were subject to tapu and tapu is like, a sense of sacred protection which a chief can bestow. So, yeah, they were kind of living under the tapu of the chief. So, if that was correct, then they were definitely being protected and I think there’s a high chance that their gender was part of the reason for that.

Ann: This is so interesting. It’s not often on my podcast that sexism really is…

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s not a corrosive force.

Ann: I’d say let’s give her a 1 or a 2 just because I’m sure…

Jennifer: Possibly I’d give her a 2 because it’s going to be there, isn’t it? So, we’ve got to acknowledge its existence.

Ann: Let me just see, so that’s 17, 18… So, her total score is a 23 out of 40. I’m just trying to see if there’s anyone who is well-known enough who you might have heard of them, who also got a 23. There’s not. [both chuckle] There’s people who got 23 but they’re not super famous people. I don’t know if you’ve heard of her, Mary Toft was an English woman from around this period, no, a bit earlier, but she allegedly gave birth to rabbits and then it turns out she was just being used by various people… She was also a poor woman who we would never have known about except this weird thing happened to her and she has a 20. So, I think this is a place where people who are significant in representing a class of people, that’s kind of where they fall on this scale.

Thank you so much for joining me to talk about this story. I’m really grateful to you for taking the time and I’m also grateful for all the investigative work you did in putting together this biography of going into, I think you said in the book, different archives to find what was she charged with and what was her sentence, and all these details.

Jennifer: Yeah. That’s part of the fun though, that’s the fun part is tracking someone down like her. It is like doing detective work but without some of the downsides of having to be a detective and yeah. So, I enjoy it immensely and I was just glad in the end that I was able to kind of give some sort of shape to her life because I think yeah, she was a remarkable person and I wonder how she’d feel about all the attention that she’s received from various quarters, having started off so low down in society, but having lived this amazing life. I think it’s great that she’s getting the attention that she deserves.

Ann: Absolutely. Thank you for helping give her more attention by coming on my podcast.

Jennifer: Well, thanks very much for having me, it’s been really fun.


So, because this is the Marie Antoinette season, in a kind of Trojan Horse way where it’s like, you see a giant statue of Marie Antoinette and they open it up and inside are a bunch of increasingly obscure, poverty-stricken women from around the world. But everyone in this series is going to connect back somehow to Marie Antoinette, and you might be like, “How is Charlotte Badger going to?” Guess what? She does. 

So, when she was eventually, when she left New Zealand, the person who came to– I don’t know if it’s rescue because she was doing okay, but the guy who she left with on a ship was Lieutenant John Putland. Lieutenant John Putland had served under a guy called Horatio Nelson when he was in the army. Honestly, a lot of the connections in this series, and it’s really telling to how the world was interacting at this time, are through these military-type people. Horatio Nelson had spent some time in Naples where he hung out with King Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans, whose wife Maria Caroline of Austria was the sister of Marie Antoinette. So, from Charlotte to Putland to Nelson to King Ferdinand to Maria Caroline, to Marie Antoinette is five degrees of separation, or four degrees if you think, he, Nelson, probably hung out with Maria Caroline directly. So, let’s say four. Four degrees of separation. 

Again, the book that Jennifer wrote is Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger. So, if you want to learn more about this whole story, it’s such a good, readable, great book. I recommend it heartily. 

This is Vulgar History, my name is Ann Foster. I have other ways if you want to keep up with me and this podcast, if you just can’t get enough, I do know that, or I suspect that because we just started this new season there are probably some new listeners and you might feel like the archive of old episodes is overwhelming, there are like 200 episodes or something. One episode that directly relates to this one, if you want to scroll back, you can find an episode about an Aboriginal Australian woman named Mary Ann Bugg and that delves more into bushranging, which are some of my favourite people from Australian history, they’re sort of like Australia’s version of highwaymen or cowboys. But Mary Ann Bugg, her story is really interesting and it gets more into the history of Australia and also of New Zealand because later in her life, Mary Ann Bugg claimed to be of Māori descent just because Australia was being colonized by the British but New Zealand wasn’t yet so Māori people had more rights and so it was actually, it seems like a thing that a lot of Aboriginal Australian people did was, “Oh no, I’m actually Māori,” and then you’d be treated better. So anyway, if you scroll back to find my episode about Mary Ann Bugg, that’s related content, I would say. 

You can keep up with me in various places, I am on Instagram @VulgarHistoryPod and that’s where I post, for every episode, just some pictures to illustrate what we’re talking about and also, that’s where you can get in touch with me, sending messages there. I also have a Patreon and the Patreon is another way that people are able to interact with me and to chat about the episodes. If you join the Patreon, which you can join for free, I have some free content that’s available there as well. If you support the podcast for at least $1/month, you get early, ad-free access to all episodes, including older episodes and you also get access to an episode discussion chat, so you can talk with me and with the other members of the tits-out brigade – which, new listeners, that is who you are; that is the name of the listeners, it was voted on democratically several years ago by the listeners. So, if you want to chat about the episodes, join the Patreon for at least $1/month, there’s a chat and also you get the early, ad-free access. 

If you join the Patreon for $5 or more per month, you get access to bonus episodes too, so you also get episodes of Vulgarpiece Theatre, there’s a bunch of episodes of those, there’s like more than 20 where I talk with my friends Allison Epstein and Lana Wood Johnson about various costume dramas, including we did an Australia-based costume drama, the Heath Ledger movie Ned Kelly. Also, when you join at the $5/month level, there’s a Discord, that’s another place where people can come and chat about the episodes. I really wanted to emphasize the places where people can share their thoughts because this season, I’m really, really, really interested in what you’re thinking and if you have thoughts or ideas about other people who you think could add to this theme. I always want to hear from you. 

I also have a Substack which is a weekly newsletter I post. It’s not the same content as the podcast, it’s completely different content. It’s not just this podcast but in words. It’s called “Vulgar History À La Carte.” At the moment, I’m talking about women from the Tudor era. So, you can follow that at 

I have merch for the podcast. So, a lot of the merch we have is inspired from just like, I don’t know, just moments that really took off with listeners in past seasons. I did a couple episodes about Marie de Guise who was this French woman who became Queen of Scots, her ongoing battles with this preacher John Knox and at one point she victoriously yelled, “Where is your God now, John Knox?” So, there’s a design that says, “Where is your God now, John Knox?” I also have some merch that’s inspired by like, silly reviews people leave of this podcast sometimes. There’s one that says, “Unscholarly and rambling.” Anyway, there is merch available, it’s a or if you’re outside the US, I suggest using the Redbubble store which is And as the season progresses, another reason why I’m like, “Get in touch with me! Join the chat! Send me messages!” is because I don’t know yet what the merch is going to be for these episodes, but I want to have something amazing for this kind of segment, for season seven part one, these revolutionary stories. And honestly, listeners come up with better ideas for merch than I often do. So, let me know what your merch ideas are as well by sending me a message. 

I also have a brand partner who is Common Era Jewellery which is a small, woman-owned business that makes jewellery inspired by women from classical mythology as well as from classical history. There are beautiful pendants and rings and earrings, they make their pieces in gold and also in more affordable gold vermeil. Some of the people and mythological people you can get on their pieces, Sappho is there, Medusa, I have that necklace, Aphrodite, and also some women we’ve talked about on this show like Boudica, Cleopatra, Hatshepsut, Agrippina. Although they’re mostly classical history there is also an Anne Boleyn necklace that I was really excited about, I also have that one too. I should mention they also have like scrunchies, hair bows, other things. Vulgar History listeners always get 15% off your order from Common Era by going to or using code ‘VULGAR’ at checkout. 

And if you want to get in touch with me in another way, if you go to the website which is, there’s a form there where you can get in touch with me there too. So, just as a teaser for next week, there’s going to be another new episode next week. we’re getting into June which is Pride Month in a lot of countries so we’re going to be having a story from queer history, it’s also a story from trans history, and it’s also a story from American history. I know there are a lot of American listeners who you know what, sometimes have been like, “You should do a story from American history,” and I’m like, be careful what you wish for because we’re going to get into a bunch of American history stuff and that starts next week. Actually, next week is not a be careful what you wish for, next week is a delightful story of American history. Coming up in a bit though, I’m going to be getting to some Founding Father stuff and I hope you’re cool with me talking about those guys because they’re not as cute as they were in Hamilton when you actually read the history. 

Anyway, thank you for listening to Vulgar History and until next time, keep your pants on and your tits out! 

Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster, that’s me! The editor is Cristina Lumague. Theme music is by the Severn Duo. The Vulgar History show image is by Deborah Wong. Transcripts are written by Aveline Malek; find transcripts of recent episodes at


Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger by Jennifer Ashton

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