- "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]
An ambitious man, Duncan came into contact with the Assassins through his position at the East India Company and proved a skilled, yet arrogant recruit. After more than a decade, however, he had become dissatisfied with the Brotherhood and chose to join the Templars based in the West Indies.
- "Thirteen years ago when we met, you were all on fire to make a difference. To make things better. You despised the exclusivity the Templars stood for and their desire to control everyone and everything. You believed in freedom."
- ―Randall to Duncan, 1714.[src]
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 Brotherhood and its teachings. Although wary at first, Duncan soon grew to serve the Brotherhood with a fervor and drive he had not known in the navy.
Betraying the Assassins
- "We've been watching you for some time. I don't know how the Assassins treat you, but I know that you've been passed over for promotion within the company. And if you were truly content with the Brotherhood, you'd never have hesitated to kill me just now."
- ―Spencer after Duncan's attempted assassination, 1714.[src]
Duncan's reputation increased along with his skills, leading him to become a full-fledged Master Assassin. However, 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. In 1714, a disillusioned Duncan was told to meet his Mentor, Phillip Randall, at Mrs. Salmon's Waxworks, an instruction he begrudgingly obliged.
Arriving late, he immediately entered into an argument with Randall, who lectured Duncan on the Brotherhood's ideals and his lack of respect. The Master Assassin was subsequently informed about his new assignment, which would require him to travel to the West Indies and assist the local Mentor, Ah Tabai, in his hunt for the Sage. Displeased with the idea, Duncan protested, claiming he could not simply leave the East India Company.
Randall then added that there was another reason: the Templars at the company had learned of Duncan's ties to the Brotherhood, putting them all in jeopardy. Bitter about the fact that his ambition was being stifled by the Assassins and that he supposedly needed additional training from Ah Tabai, Duncan turned down the mission and departed. Nevertheless, Randall was confident that the Master Assassin would come around, as he had before.
Later that day at the East India House, Duncan spotted Henri Spencer, Esquire, a member of the company's Court of Directors and a Templar, according to Randall. Tailing the man to a tavern, the Master Assassin decided to strike up a conversation with him, during which it became clear that Spencer was indeed a member of the Order and knew of Duncan's own allegiance. In spite of this, the exchange proceeded peacefully; after Spencer had departed, Duncan followed, intending to assassinate him.
Despite his suspicions that it was a trap, Duncan pursued the Templar via the rooftops and eventually leapt upon his target, who made no move to escape. With a Hidden Blade to his throat, Spencer explained that he wanted to recruit the Master Assassin for the Order. Convinced that the Templars would allow him to attain the fame and fortune he desired, Duncan accepted and met up with Randall the next day to accept the assignment, intending to use it to sabotage Assassin operations before officially joining the Order.
Journey to the West Indies and death
- "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]
Arriving in early 1715, Duncan utilized his time under Ah Tabai 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.
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 with his Hidden Blade and advanced on another sailor, but the magazine suddenly detonated, pitching all aboard into the ocean.
Shipwrecked in Cape Bonavista and badly injured, 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. Voicing his contempt for pirates, Duncan tried to shoot the man only to find that the pistol was unable to fire due to wet gunpowder; discarding the pistol, Duncan subsequently fled into the jungle, and Edward gave chase.
During this chase, the gunpowder in Duncan's second 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. Hampered by his wound, the turncoat was easily killed.
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. The Assassins themselves were infuriated at his treachery, particularly Ah Tabai, and were gratified to learn of his death. However, the maps Duncan had made and which Edward unknowingly sold to the Templars placed many of his former brothers and sisters in grave danger, as well as causing them to lose their advantage over the Templars.
At some point during his life, Walpole fathered at least one child. By 2016, one of his descendants, Nathan, was kidnapped by the Templars, who hoped to learn more about Walpole while exploring the young man's DNA.
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.
- Oddly, Duncan only appears to possess one Hidden Blade despite being a Master Assassin.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (First appearance)
- Assassin's Creed: Black Flag
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue (Mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: The Official Movie Novelization