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"And you're worse for it, Kenway! It were the Templars who took us in when all else went to shit! Not our king. Not our country. The Templars."
―Burgess' last words, 1719.[src]-[m]

Josiah Burgess (1689 – 1719) was an English pirate based in Nassau. Like John Cockram, he had a close relationship with Benjamin Hornigold, one of the leaders of the small pirate republic. After accepting the King's pardon, he was recruited into the Templar Order as a pirate hunter, tracking down and eliminating his former allies.


"We've sent two of our best men. Burgess and Cockram. Privateers with fast ships and firm hearts."
―Woodes Rogers, on Burgess and Cockram, 1719.[src]-[m]

Little is known of Burgess' life prior to his becoming a pirate. By 1718, he, along with Cockram and Hornigold, had become dissatisfied with the state of Nassau, feeling it had turned into an unbearable slum. As such, Burgess eagerly accepted the British Crown's pardon, offered to him by Woodes Rogers, and was then invited to join the Templars in their attempts to restore order in the region.[1]

In 1719, he and Cockram were sent to Príncipe, an island on the coast of west Africa, to track down the Sage Bartholomew Roberts. Through their Templar connections, the pair secured an alliance with the Portuguese based there. With the aid of the Portuguese, Burgess and Cockram found and ambushed the crew Roberts was part of, though Roberts himself slipped away.[2]

As Burgess and Cockram prepared to leave to notify their Templar brethren, they were killed by Edward Kenway, who had teamed up with Roberts in exchange for the location of the Observatory. In their final moments, Burgess and Cockram claimed the Templars had been like a family for them and called Edward out on his selfish motivations.[2]


In 2013, during research for the Abstergo Entertainment feature film Devils of the Caribbean, Burgess was deemed a "minor character" in Edward Kenway's story by Chief Creative Officer Melanie Lemay. To fix this, she suggested they make Burgess more interesting by giving him some strange secret and changing his date of death. Subsequently, the database entry for Burgess was changed to make his date of death as 1721, when historically he died in 1719.[3]

In 2015, Burgess' last name was included on a list of known British Templars used by the Templar Isabelle Ardant. This list was later unveiled by the Assassins Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings when they infiltrated Ardant's office to plant a bug.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

Josiah Burgess is a historical figure and character introduced in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, where he is voiced by Christopher Hatherall. Historically, he drowned off the coast of the Bahamas in 1719 when his ship was lost at sea.

In development art for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Burgess is shown with a red color scheme - similar to a Redcoat - like his friend Cockram, but has a blue and gold color scheme in the actual game.