- "This country here is my best chance. This country called Jackdaw, where I know the names of all the citizens and they know mine, and we work together. Not always out of love, but to keep our country afloat."
- ―Adéwalé to Edward Kenway.[src]
After an imprisoned Edward Kenway was placed on a ship in the fleet bound for Spain, he met his future quartermaster, Adéwalé, who helped free Edward from their leg irons, and assisted him in incapacitating the guards until the pirate retrieved his equipment.
Following this, the pair secured a crew by freeing other prisoners from their Spanish captors, before they set their sights on a brig in the fleet, El Dorado, and made their way to relinquish it. Subsequently, Kenway used the pirates he freed to help sail the ship from the fleet under the cover of a severe storm, successfully escaping the natural disaster while the remaining ships were sunk. Kenway then renamed the ship the Jackdaw, after a small, swift bird from his home of Wales.
- Edward: "It's a shaky feeling, sailing around with this much stolen cargo."
- Hornigold: "Get used to it. We'll need to take a few more prizes to make this a profitable day."
- ―Edward Kenway and Benjamin Hornigold, after the Jackdaw took its first brig, 1715.[src]
The Jackdaw's first major act of piracy took place off of the coast of Nassau in 1715, when Captain Benjamin Hornigold showed Kenway how to succesfully take a ship. Soon after, it was used to transport Kenway to Cat Island to plunder a plantation, and eventually followed a Spanish Man O' War, the El Arca Del Maestro, through the Bahamas to its moorings at the Great Inagua. Kenway infiltrated the island, killed the French Templar Julien du Casse, and took both the ship and the island. It was here that he would establish his own base of operations, and the Jackdaw could often be found moored at the docks in the cove.
The Jackdaw traveled across the West Indies Sea to the ancient city of Tulum, home of the Assassins, where the crew members were soon taken prisoner by Laurens Prins. Kenway freed his crew and they returned to sea. Soon after, the ship took its first fort, located at Punta Guarico, and made sail for Kingston.
The Jackdaw was 60 meters long, 48.5 meters high, had a width of 11.9 meters, and had twenty-six sails. Accompanying this, the Jackdaw was armed with forty-six broadside cannons, four chaser cannons and two swivel guns. Accompanying this, she could hold a sizable number of fire barrels, heated shot and mortar rounds, and was equipped with a iron plated naval ram.
At her strongest, the Jackdaw possessed a sizable amount of iron-plating reinforcement across her hull, which provided ample protection in combat against a number of Men O' War. The brig was able to disable and destroy any type of ship, given the proper strategy in battle.
She was also equipped with a diving bell for exploration of various underwater wrecks, as well as a whaling rowboat and harpoons, which allowed Edward to hunt for local sea life. Like most ships of the time and area, her masts featured pedal-activated lifts and hooks to allow both ascent and descent. The Jackdaw also had cleverly-placed swinging ropes secured both on deck and in the cross-masts that were used by the crew to swing from one ship to another.
While the Jackdaw did not participate in any major historical battles of the era, she still had more than her fair share of legendary combat. Notable skirmishes, such as the battle which took Blackbeard's life near Ocracoke, and the later conflict off the coast of Príncipe – in which Bartholomew Roberts was killed – were fought on the Jackdaw's decks. The ship also single-handedly outgunned and destroyed all of the naval forts around the Caribbean at one time or another.
The Jackdaw also took many ships, from gunboats to Men O' War, including the five legendary ships that roamed the Caribbean Sea: El Impoluto, the twin ships HMS Fearless and Royal Sovereign, La Dama Negra, and HMS Prince.
- Edward Kenway
- Adéwalé (until 1721-22)
- Anne Bonny (from 1721-22 onward)
- Numerous unnamed pirates
- Like many other references to the Assassin Order involving avians, a jackdaw is a small, black bird belonging to the crow family. Coincidentally, the color of the bird's feathers themselves could also be a reference to piracy often being symbolized by black.
- Darby McDevitt mentioned the Jackdaw's name was also a reference to the fable of the Eagle and the Jackdaw; the fable is recited during the memory, "Delirium".
- The former name of the ship, El Dorado, is Spanish for "the gilded one; the golden".
- In the captain's cabin, there is a statue of an eagle near the Jackdaw's rear window. There is also a bust of an unknown man in the right corner. Other cabin decorations include several flags, lanterns, a desk, and some chairs.
- Mary Read, in discussion with Edward Kenway about the Observatory, once remarked that "it's an old legend. Like El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth." A foreshadowing of the mythical status that the Jackdaw, previously known as El Dorado, would soon gain under Kenway's captaincy.
- Strangely, right after The Treasure Fleet, if the player deigns to release the wheel and climb around the ship, the ship will already have the words "Jackdaw" painted on it, and a black flag swapped for the Spanish flag despite freshly seized from the Spanish and not yet having a chance to go to any port for those alterations.
- The Jackdaw flies a generic pirate flag for most of the game. After ...Everything Is Permitted, the flag changes to include the Assassin Insignia around the skulls and crossbones icon.
- At elite level, most of the Jackdaw's equipment, including the swivel guns, broadside, and mortars, are golden. The elite hull upgrade also includes liberal gold and iron plating on the ship's hull and deck.