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Edward first learned of the Grand Temple during his time as a pirate in the West Indies, in 1722, when a dying Bartholomew Roberts vaguely referenced it in his final words. Following this, he began looking into the matter, detailing his discoveries in a journal.
In 1735, Reginald Birch, Kenway's business associate and secretly a member of the Templar Order, orchestrated an attack on the Kenway household, during which Edward was killed and Birch's henchmen took the journal.
By 1747, the journal was kept by the Templar Juan Vedomir in his villa in Altea, Spain for study. When Reginald Birch sent Haytham Kenway – Edward's son and convert to the Templars – to eliminate Vedomir, Haytham took the journal with him back to England.
He then gave the journal to Birch, who began to decode the journal alongside John Harrison, both sharing a passionate interest in the First Civilization. By August 1753, the British Templars were able to establish the existence of an amulet key that would open the doors to the First Civilization storehouse, and by 1754, discovered that the amulet was safeguarded by the Assassin Miko. During a performance of The Beggar's Opera at the Royal Opera House in London on 18 April, Haytham assassinated Miko and obtained the amulet.
Birch then sent Haytham to the British colonies in North America with the journal, as Harrison's calculations concluded that the storehouse was located somewhere in New York or Massachusetts. With the help of the Kanien'kehá:ka woman Kaniehtí:io, Haytham arrived at the Grand Temple's cavern entrance, but was unaware that the amulet would only open the Grand Temple's inner chamber. Concluding that the site was not correct, Haytham had William Johnson make a copy of the journal, but eventually decided to give up their pursuits of the Grand Temple as not to disrupt the Kanien'kehá:ka living in the area.
The journal passed through Templar hands, eventually reaching Lucy Thorne in 1868. While Thorne intended to have it and other research notes transported, the journal was stolen by the Assassin Evie Frye. Sharing the journal with Henry Green, the two Assassins read that their predecessors had found a Shroud of Eden and hidden it away. Evie discovered hidden directions in the journal, revealed by the Eagle Vision, that led her to the Kenway Mansion.