- "Not only was my cousin involved in affairs I keep at a distance, but he was a treacherous man, a man blessed, I'm afraid, with few principles. A man prepared to sell the secrets of those who trusted him to the highest bidder. I was ashamed to see him bear the Walpole name."
- ―Robert Walpole on Duncan, 1723.[src]
Duncan Walpole (1679 – 1715) was a Master Assassin of the British Brotherhood of Assassins during the early 18th century. Skilled but arrogant, Duncan later chose to betray his Order and join the Templars based in the West Indies.
The second cousin of Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, Duncan's early life was one of relative comfort and ease. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a mid-shipman, hoping to become a naval officer. However, Duncan's impulsive nature and immoderate temper prevented him from rising quickly through the ranks, causing him to become frustrated with his progress.
After three years, Duncan gave up on the navy and instead sought his fortune with the East India Company. There, he befriended a sailor, who introduced Duncan to the Assassin Order and its teachings. Although wary at first, Duncan soon grew to serve the Order with a fervor and drive he had not known in the navy.
Betraying the Assassins
- "I accept your most generous offer, and await your arrival with eagerness. If you truly possess the information we desire, we have the means to reward you handsomely [...] Therefore, come to Havana in haste... And trust that you shall be welcomed as a brother."
- ―Torres inviting Duncan to Havana, 1715.[src]
Duncan's reputation increased along with his skills, though his impulsiveness and temper - coupled with a growing arrogance - continued to be liabilities and often led him to clash with the senior members of the British Brotherhood. Disappointed to find neither glory nor fortune with the Assassins, Duncan's loyalty to the Order faltered, which was taken advantage of by the British Templars, who eventually succeeded in turning Duncan to their cause.
In 1714, Duncan was asked by his Mentor to sail to the West Indies and meet Ah Tabai, the leader of the local Brotherhood. Seeing an opportunity to sabotage the Assassins' operation and officially join the Templars, Duncan eagerly accepted the position and departed within the month.
Arriving in early 1715, Duncan requested to train under Ah Tabai, utilizing the next few months to integrate himself into the local Brotherhood and gather valuable information about the locations of various Assassin bureaus in the area. In secret, Duncan also began corresponding with Laureano de Torres y Ayala, the Spanish Governor of Cuba and the Grand Master of the Templar Order in the West Indies. The pair arranged to meet in Havana, where Duncan would be officially inducted after handing over the information.
Around June, Ah Tabai learned that the Templars had imprisoned a Sage in the southern Spanish colonies and entrusted Duncan with the task of intercepting the Templar ship that was carrying the captive. Seizing his chance to abandon the Assassins, Duncan agreed to this task and departed on a frigate called HMS Intrigue, setting sail for Havana to join Torres.
- Duncan: "I can pay you. Isn't that the sound you pirates like best? One hundred escudos."
- Edward: "Keep talking."
- Duncan: "Will you or won't you!"
- —Duncan attempting to enlist Edward's help, 1715.[src]
However, while en route, HMS Intrigue attacked a pirate brig, the Jacobite, which was captained by Abel Bramah. The pirates managed to de-mast the frigate, but soon found that their own weapon magazine had been hit. Boarding the ship, Duncan assassinated the captain, but was thrown overboard by the magazine's explosion.
Shipwrecked in Cape Bonavista, Cuba, Duncan attempted to enlist the aid of the only other survivor, the pirate Edward Kenway, in reaching Havana. Edward attempted to haggle the price of passage, but Duncan threatened him with a flintlock pistol in response, only to find that it was unable to fire due to wet gunpowder; Duncan subsequently fled into the jungle, and Edward gave chase.
During this chase, the gunpowder in Duncan's flintlock dried, allowing the Assassin turncoat to shoot Edward once with his pistol. However, this only angered the pirate, who chased Duncan to a clearing, where the pair fought, with Edward ultimately killing the turncoat.
On Duncan's corpse, Edward found a letter from Torres, referencing the cargo Duncan was bringing to him: a blood vial and maps detailing the locations of Assassin bureaus across the Caribbean. Edward chose to steal Duncan's robes and assumed his identity, intent on collecting the reward for himself. In going to Havana, Edward became entangled in the secret war between the Templars and the Assassins.
Due to his treachery, few mourned Duncan's passing; when Edward later met Robert Walpole, the man thanked him, having thought of his cousin as a man lacking in scruples, willing to serve whoever paid the highest price.
Equipment and skills
Having served in the Royal Navy for three years, Duncan was an experienced sailor. As well as this, he possessed the freerunning skills expected of a Master Assassin, capable of performing a Leap of Faith even while seriously injured. His wound may well have contributed to him being beaten in battle by Edward, who lacked extensive combat training.
Duncan was also well-versed in deception, as shown by his success in fooling not only Ah Tabai, but his fellow Assassins as well. In terms of equipment, he possessed a sword, dual Hidden Blades, and dual pistols.
- Duncan is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh meaning "brown warrior", derived from Gaelic donn "brown" and cath "warrior". Walpole is an English surname originating from either Norfolk or Suffolk.
- In one of his letters to Torres, Duncan reportedly expressed his desire to kill Ah Tabai, though he evidently did not succeed in carrying out this intention before his departure.
- Duncan appeared in a list of known British Assassins used by the Templar Isabelle Ardant in 2015.