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"Ah, there's a tug of the wind at my hair! I find a bracing comfort in the feel and smell of the ocean. The raw stink of... of possibility!"
―Stede Bonnet to Edward Kenway, on their voyage to Havana, 1715.[src]-[m]

Stede Bonnet (1688 – 1718) was a Barbadian pirate of English descent who sailed the Eastern Seaboard of the Thirteen Colonies with his crew. Despite his infamy, he was often nicknamed "The Gentleman Pirate", due in part to the fact that he was a moderately wealthy landowner prior to turning to piracy, owning a profitable sugar plantation in Barbados.

Despite his contrasting upbringing, Stede became a likeable associate of several well-known pirates based in the Caribbean during the early 18th century, including Edward Kenway, Edward Thatch, Benjamin Hornigold, and Mary Read.


Early life[]

Stede Bonnet was born around 1688 in Bridgetown, Barbados to a successful and influential plantation owner. When Stede was only seven years old, his parents died, leaving him orphaned and depressed.[1]

As a result of his parents' death, Stede inherited 400 acres of land from his father. By the time he was in his late teens, Stede had already returned his sugar plantation to a profitable state. Marrying young, Stede set about starting a family as soon as possible, but never found his domestic life comfortable or satisfying.[1]

Before 1715, Stede's firstborn son died in infancy (supposedly stillborn or the result of an accident, disease or SIDS), further complicating his unease. As a means of coping with his grief and restlessness, he dreamed of sailing around the world, and living free of obligations.[1]

Time in Havana[]

"It's mad to think Spain and England were at war two years ago, isn't it? Here I am, bartering with Spaniards like they were my cousins."
―Stede upon arriving in Havana, 1715.[src]-[m]
Edward Kenway Memory 24

Stede thanking Edward for saving his life

In June 1715, Stede's schooner, the Revenge, was waylaid by a Royal Navy warship off the coast of Cape Bonavista, Cuba. The British suspected Stede of being involved in a nearby battle between the pirateship Jacobite and a passing Navy frigate, the HMS Intrigue. Despite Bonnet denying this profusely, the British refused to accept his turn of events and intended to commandeer his vessel and maroon him.[2]

Stede was saved by the timely intervention of Edward Kenway, a pirate who had been involved in the engagement and shortly beforehand had assumed the identity of Duncan Walpole, an Assassin whom Edward had been forced to kill. Having saved Stede's life, the pirate offered to pilot the Revenge to Havana, where both of them had business.[2] On arriving at their destination, Stede and Edward headed into the city, eventually ending up in a tavern.[3]

There, Edward was recognized by a privateer, who knew of Edward being a pirate, and of his ties to those in Nassau. The two engaged in a fight after Edward's attempt to silence him, drawing the attention of some nearby soldiers from the Spanish Empire's army. Stede was mistaken for Edward's accomplice and severely beaten by the troops, having his sugar confiscated in the process.[3]

Once Edward had returned from avoiding the soldiers, he found a battered Bonnet by the docks, who told him that the soldiers had confiscated Edward's possessions, as well as the sugar. Edward then agreed to retrieve Bonnet's cargo at the same time as his own effects, but could not fulfill on his promise. Fortunately, Stede was still able to make a profit with his remaining inventory, and Edward then confessed his real first name to Bonnet.[4]

A Man They Call The Sage 1

Stede calling out to Edward

Later, Bonnet spotted Edward with the Templars he had recently joined and excitedly called him by his real name, nearly blowing his cover, to which Edward was quickly able to talk his way out of trouble.[5] The pirate met with Bonnet not long after and complained about the small pay he received from the governor Laureano de Torres y Ayala for the items he had brought. Stede, on the other hand, was trying to inform Edward of his great sales from the day.[6]

This was the last time Edward and Stede saw each other for the next three years, as later that night, Edward decided to break into Torres' mansion and free the Sage Bartholomew Roberts in the hopes of interrogating him for the location of the fabled Observatory.[6] This resulted in Edward's capture and imprisonment aboard the Spanish Treasure Fleet, whereupon he escaped, commandeered a ship he renamed the Jackdaw, and rejoined his fellow pirates in Nassau.[7]

Introduction to piracy[]

"I have been told your flag. To be aided by the famous pyrate Captain Edward Thatch—it must be fate. Stede Bonnet at your service, good sirrah."
―Stede introducing himself to Edward Thatch, 1717.[src]

Around his twenty-ninth birthday, Bonnet grew restless with "the tedium of domesticity", which may have been exacerbated by the death of his son. This prompted him to take up a life of piracy.[1] Despite knowing absolutely nothing about ships or seafaring, he ordered a fine vessel to be built, and then set out to find a pirate crew.[8] To maintain a part of his life of comfort, he installed a full library in the captain's quarters of his ship, and dressed in fine pajamas, smoking jackets, and frocks. Near the end of 1717, Stede bid his wife and children farewell, sailing north from Barbados, never to see them again.[1]

Sailing under the moniker "Captain Edwards", Stede was eager to take his first prize. His crew foolishly chose a Spanish Man O' War as their first target, and nearly half of his crew was killed or injured during the battle. Bonnet survived, and set sail for Nassau, meeting and befriending fellow pirate Edward Thatch. Thatch convinced Stede to hand over the Revenge, leaving Bonnet happily confined to his cabin.[1]

Diving For Medicines 2

Stede reuniting with Edward

Two months later, Thatch captured a massive French slave ship called La Concorde, renaming it the Queen Anne's Revenge.[9] Thatch continued to mentor Stede for a time on board the Queen Anne's Revenge, where Bonnet was reunited with his old friend Edward Kenway while searching for medicines for Nassau among the ship wrecks of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. There, he became an unfortunate victim of Thatch's fear tactics, which frightened him speechless.[10]

Later on, Thatch and his crew engaged a British Man O' War, and were eventually assisted by Edward. After the battle, Thatch allowed Bonnet to leave his service, returning him the Revenge.[11] Meeting Edward for the final time, Bonnet joyfully bade the pirate farewell, thanking him for their friendship, which he claimed was "more precious than any treasure".[12]


"Blubbering and bawling, he collapsed at the gallows. Weeping like a little lamb."
―A British soldier describing Stede's final moments, 1721.[src]-[m]

Feeling that he had received adequate tutelage under Thatch, Bonnet hoped to return to the Caribbean and receive a letter of marque from the Danish governor of St. Thomas to go privateering against Spanish ships. However, hurricane season left the Revenge trapped in the Northern Colonies, and as his crew grew restless, he was compelled to return to piracy despite decreased tolerance for pirates in the region.[1]

During the Battle of Cape Fear River, Bonnet's crew engaged Royal Marines led by Colonel William Rhett, and was captured. Though he attempted escape, he was recaptured by Colonel Rhett and was hanged for piracy in Charles Town on 10 December 1718. Eyewitnesses reported being moved to tears by his remorse in the last moments before the execution.[1]


The End 7

Edward reminiscing Stede and other pirates

In 1721, Edward learned about Stede's fate while imprisoned in Port Royal, Jamaica, after overhearing a conversation between two British soldiers mocking the late "Gentleman Pirate".[13] Later, prior to leaving the Caribbean and returning to England in 1722, Edward fondly recalled all his deceased friends, Bonnet among them.[14]

At some point prior to his death, Stede left behind clues to lead Edward to his hidden stash on Mystery Island. Exploring the island, Edward discovered Bonnet's buried treasure and claimed it for himself, acquiring an attire similar to Stede's own, as well as the sails and figurehead of the Revenge.[15]

Personality and traits[]

"Edward... your constant friendship has been my most treasured find on these seas. Well above gold and silver and rum, I... I prize the courage you have inspired in me this year. Thank you, Sir! A fair good morrow to you!"
―Stede Bonnet's final words to Edward Kenway, 1718.[src]-[m]
Lively Havana 9

Stede waving at Havana's citizens

Stede Bonnet was a jolly and gracious man, shown especially by his great respect for Edward Kenway, who saved his life, and his ability to see a silver lining to any situation. However, this came paired with naivety, as Bonnet clearly did not understand the potential dangers he could have faced while traveling with Edward, nor the consequences of piracy, passing it off for grand adventure.[15]

While sailing under Edward Thatch, Bonnet showed more courage than earlier, being toughened up by living among pirates. Of course, when Thatch was demonstrating to Edward what it meant to instill fear in men, Bonnet still cowered weakly when Thatch used him as an example. Despite this, Stede left Thatch's crew in good spirits, even commenting to Kenway the great impact that the man had on his self-esteem and confidence, as his last words to Edward involved Bonnet thanking him for his help.[15]

Behind the scenes[]

Stede Bonnet is a historical figure and character introduced in the 2013 video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, where he was voiced by James Bachman.

Bonnet was believed to be one of those few pirates who forced their prisoners to "walk the plank", which became a familiar stereotype of pirates. No historical evidence supports this, however, nor do Edward Kenway or any of his friends mention Bonnet committing such an act in Black Flag.

Additionally, the historical Bonnet was actually cheated by Edward Thatch, who took his fleet and most of his treasures and left him only with the Revenge as his ship. This incident is not mentioned in Black Flag, its novelization, or Thatch's in-universe journal "written" by his ship scribe Charles Johnson, though the latter case could plausibly be Thatch choosing to omit such information.




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagDatabase: Stede Bonnet
  2. 2.0 2.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagEdward Kenway
  3. 3.0 3.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagLively Havana
  4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag...And My Sugar?
  5. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagA Man They Call the Sage
  6. 6.0 6.1 Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagClaiming What's Due
  7. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagThe Treasure Fleet
  8. Assassin's Creed: InitiatesDatabase: The Aristocratic Pirate
  9. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagDatabase: Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch
  10. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagDiving for Medicines
  11. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagDevil's Advocate
  12. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagThe Siege of Charles-Towne
  13. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagTo Suffer Without Dying
  14. Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagThe End
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag