View Full Version : Interesting Insight into the real Charles Lee

01-19-2014, 12:34 AM
Was doing some work on my own family tree and found some Lees (General Robert E. Lee included) so decided to go look into Charles Lee's family to see if maybe there's a relation to Robert E. Lee and myself. Ran into something interesting. Bit of a missed opportunity for Charles in AC3 or at least Forsaken. Such a shame the books and games tend to be focused more on one character resulting in the rest being rather flat. Perhaps Ubisoft should consider a short story mini series that fleshes out side characters. I know Ubisoft writers do a lot of research into the time frame for each game, but apparently research into the real characters' family trees is not part of it. At any rate, this tidbit I've never seen mentioned anywhere else so seems few ever seem to look at family trees.

A long post, but I'm not doing a TLDR.

Spoiler tags so it doesn't look so daunting to read:
While looking into Charles's tree, I found he had a sister named Sidney who he gave the majority of his fortune to upon his death. Sidney was unmarried, likely never came to America, and died 6 years after Charles did in Cheshire, England (1788). She left her estate to her cousin Susan (or Susannah) Townshend who apparently lived in nearby Wales. Susan had a brother named Robert who also died at Braddock's expedition. Record I found said he died in 1756 but also states he died during the expedition which was July 9, 1755. So likely someone just rounded up. If Sidney knew Susan, it stands to reason Charles also knew Robert. No birth year for Robert is known, but would seem he was born roughly around 1734 making him about 2 years younger than Charles. Possible Charles saw Robert as a younger brother. We know Charles was also at Braddock's Expedition as was George Washington. George Washington was the one who organized the retreat when Braddock fell. Seems possible Robert fell during the retreat and Charles laid the blame on Washington for a poor retreat. Would explain why Charles constantly stated Washington was a terrible leader.

At roughly this same time, Charles Lee was known to have a Mohawk wife and twins. Since there's so little known about them, I believe the marriage was incredibly short lived (likely less than a year) and the twins died young. Since he left the majority of his fortune to his sister Sidney, that further proves the twins died young. Given George Washington's habit of torching native villages at the time, possibly Charles Lee lost his wife and twins either directly or indirectly due to Washington. Or he lost them coincidentally close to the time of their village being burned, and Charles put two and two together without considering maybe they died of an illness such as smallpox or pneumonia. People often want to lay blame and find reason in what happened. Charles likely would've already been irritated with Washington over Robert's death, so wouldn't be much of a jump for him to also blame Washington for the death of his wife and children even if he had nothing to do with it.

There was also another Lee (Edward Lee) who died April 5, 1759 in Philadelphia who was the brother-in-law to Robert Townshend and the 2nd cousin to Charles. It's rather interesting that this Lee also died in Philadelphia much like Charles does later and had to of known not only Robert but also Charles. The trio possibly came to America at roughly the same time (maybe even together since they were all military), and Edward's death was the straw that broke the camel's back explaining why Charles left America.

When the French and Indian War ended in America, Charles went to Europe to enlist in the Portuguese military which further solidifies the loss of his wife and twins by this point. The loss of his cousin, Edward, wife, and twins so close together might be the reason why Charles left America. Charles's mother (Isabel or Isabella Bunbury) also died at roughly this time (1750) in England. Charles was the baby of the family (no children are listed after him from what I found) so was likely fairly attached to his mother. This also feeds into Charles potentially seeing Robert as a younger brother. His mother's death might have sparked his interest in going to America. His only motivation for anything he did couldn't have only been military advancement. Grief likely spurred many of his decisions.

Comes the question why Charles Lee returned to America in the early 1770s and bought his estate in West Virginia (Prato Rio). He could've just returned to England and retired to his sister's estate, but something brought him back to America. Possible he just liked America better than England, and despite his losses, he wanted to return there. Kind of suggests he was a bit sentimental in his later years. Charles could've defected to the British much like Benedict Arnold did but something kept him with the Americans. I'm aware there were documents discovered after Charles's death that suggests he was working with the British, but since he remained in America despite everything that happened, it seems he wasn't too into helping the British. He possibly did it out of obligation or duress (he was being held captive by the British at the time) and maybe to try to sabotage Washington, but still felt America was his home so was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Granted, being threatened with being hanged in England likely didn't make him want to return there so he was probably praying no one discovered he had helped the British even if he was possibly forced to help them. We really don't know if Charles wrote those plans of his own free will or if he had a gun to his head the whole time. Although we do know the man who captured Charles was an old military friend, but friendships often have a habit of turning sour in war.

Family tree links:
Charles Lee: http://histfam.familysearch.org/getperson.php?personID=I98640&tree=Welsh
Sidney Lee: http://histfam.familysearch.org/getperson.php?personID=I251894&tree=Welsh
Robert Townshend: http://histfam.familysearch.org/getperson.php?personID=I251828&tree=Welsh
Edward Lee: http://histfam.familysearch.org/getperson.php?personID=I251902&tree=Welsh
Trying to trace people in a family tree can be a bit of a pain, especially when people share the same name (such as Frances Lee ... or John). One mistake and two people suddenly become one or one person looks to be two. Names also often have variant spellings like Susan vs Suannah, Henry vs Harry, Frances vs Francis, etc.

Also, food for thought, figured out the average family size of the era was around 6 surviving kids (http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/us3.cfm). If each one had 6 kids and this continued to at least 1960, a guy from 1750 might have over 600,000 descendants by today ... maybe even a million. Take into account declining family sizes, value might be closer to 100,000. The US has over 300 million people so kind of suggests there's around 300-3,000 common ancestors such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, etc and chances are many people have several of those common ancestors in their tree, not just 1. Makes you think. Don't think any other country fairs any better. Smaller the community, the more likely you're related. Does make you realize that if you go family tree hunting, the further back you go, the more cousins you have. Go back to the 1400s, you might have 5 million or better cousins today. Go back to the 1000s, a person might have 10 million descendants today.

Taking that into consideration, Desmond's likely not the only one in the world to have bloodlines from Altair, Ezio, and Edward/Haytham/Connor. It's technically impossible to think Desmond's the only one. Only way he'd be the only one is if the family had a 1 child policy ... which seems to be what Ubisoft likes doing. They might have 2 kids (Altair, Ezio, Edward), but seems only 1 actually has kids themselves. Altair's eldest son seems to have never had children. Possible Ezio's son died young or failed to have children. Jenny had no children. We don't know if Haytham had another child before or after Connor. We don't know if Connor had more than 1 child. Think Ubisoft's stuck on the rule of 2 and only 1 may descend. :p Guess it's safe to assume with that theme, Connor had 1-2 kids, and if he had 2, then 1 never had kids. Well, Ezio did have another child that we know Clay is descended from, but that still doesn't deviate much from the 2 rule they seem to have.

Ubisoft really needs to spice up the trees. They've gotten predictable. Average family size for the 1700s-1800s in America was like 6 surviving kids, not 2. And again, that's surviving. Many families had 10+ kids.
In relation to AC3:
Connor lost his mother to George Washington but he laid the blame on Charles Lee without considering that someone else could've been the culprit. Possibly Charles Lee blames the death of his cousin, wife, and twins (and maybe Edward) on George Washington when their deaths were also caused by someone/something else. Both also harbor hatred toward the (possible) wrong man for years. The two are fairly similar and their hatred of each other only seems to be a misunderstanding. Makes you wonder how the story could've changed if Connor was aware he had something in common with Lee. George Washington would've ended up the "bad guy" by circumstance. Then it would've been a story of Connor fighting between getting revenge on the man who killed his mother (Washington) or dealing with the Templars.
It's possible George Washington was partially behind Robert's death explaining why Washington tries so hard to befriend Charles later. Giving Charles such a high position in the American military, paying him visits at Prato Rio, etc shows that he might have had some remorse for Robert's death and/or Charles Lee's wife and children. Washington could've had Charles hanged for treason or something after the Monmouth retreat but yet didn't. Stands to reason Washington tries to butter up Connor in much the same way, especially around the time he becomes President and after. With the war with the native tribes going on in the Northwest Territory at the time, Washington would've likely wanted Connor as a mediator to help him curb the fighting. Connor appears to forgive him by 1788 (Tyranny of King Washington). If anything more was done on Connor, I think it'd be an interesting story to have him try to be a mediator and not a killer. Someone who actually tries to see both sides of the story and chose the better path rather than jumping on conclusions and murdering the wrong man. Might be interesting to see him try to show mercy rather than just killing every target he happens upon. There's other ways to end conflicts that don't result in someone's death. Kind of why I would suspect Edward would show sympathy toward Woodes Rogers and help get him out of debtor's prison only for him to return to the Caribbean and be killed by the Assassins there because they didn't get the memo about Edward helping him. Granted, he returned to the slave trade so guy deserved it anyway. I know the series is Assassin's Creed, but not everything has to end with someone dying. Sometimes mercy may be the better path.

Would be an interesting story to have an Assassin who actually tries to avoid killing and regrets it when they do it. In Connor's case, he held so much anger for so many years that he enjoyed the assassinations he did. The only one he regretted was Kanen'to:kon. Would be interesting to see him take a 180 and try to be the peacekeeper, only resorting to assassinating when he has to. No assassin really seems to even show sympathy toward their enemies. Altair didn't seem to care who he killed outside of maybe Al Mualim nor did it really effect him emotionally. Maria's death doesn't count. Her death wasn't intentional. Ezio also didn't appear to be effected and I don't recall any he really regretted. At most, he regretted not getting Rodrigo or Cesere sooner. Connor eventually figured out Charles Lee wasn't behind his mother's death but still chases Charles for it. Would be possible that Connor starts to look more into the truth of what happened to his mother after AC3 ended and start to wonder if he made the right decision, then potentially set him on a path to think first before he acts. Possible he confronted Washington in 1788 about it after spending years fighting with himself, Washington openly admits to it causing Connor to leave, and then Washington chases after him with the Apple leading into ToKW. Showing Connor the Apple after the two get into a big fight might be Washington trying to show Connor he can be trusted.
Kind of makes you wonder what else hides in family trees of various real characters. There's always a reason behind someone's madness even if it's something as simple as genetics. With Charles Lee's case, seems his story was similar to Connor's. Much of his problem stems from loss of those close to him. In another story, the two could've possibly been friends. It's an interesting insight into the real Charles Lee and makes you wonder what could've been.

Assassin's Creed 3 certainly still remains my favorite of the series, but with such a missed opportunity with Charles makes me wonder what other missed opportunities there have been. Seriously, Ubisoft needs to do a short story series showcasing a particular side character. Announce a character for a game, a month later release a short story related to them. Then release short stories for unannounced characters after the game's released for the next 6 months to a year to keep interest in the game. Would help promote the game and fill in plot holes in both the game and books. And it's also more than just DLC which may not expand upon the story at all and thus not fill in massive plot holes.

Figured I'd post this since it is a rather interesting insight into a character that was featured in one of the games. :) Really makes you consider more why something is.

01-19-2014, 12:40 AM
This actually makes me appreciate the relationship between Connor and Charles so much more than I already have. I think Connor's and Lee's relationship is one of my favorite Protagonist-Antagonist relations. They're both very similar and I hated how much the writing further down the story turned Charles into the racist ***** that he turned out to be. I wish they did more research. this is really interesting.

and I was so mad that they made the leader of the Rebels in NY Thomas Jefferson, someone who had NO business being introduced in the DLC...I would'v rather had Lee and the rest of the band of Templars be the rebels against King GW. would'v been great to see him and Connor work together.

01-19-2014, 12:44 AM
Very interesting read,thanks for the info.

01-19-2014, 02:24 AM
I hated how much the writing further down the story turned Charles into the racist ***** that he turned out to be. I wish they did more research. this is really interesting..

Yesss... He was like a totally different person in the Connor sequences than he was in the Haytham ones. I was so used to the charming, helpful sidekick from the first few hours, that when he barged onscreen and started roughing up a four-year-old, I momentarily thought it wasn't the same guy.

Lee turned out much differently than I expected he would, since most of the speculation leading up to AC3 centered on his Mohawk wife and sons.

01-19-2014, 03:36 AM
Charles Lee grabbed my attention when I first got into the game just because my own middle name is Lee. Started to look into him on and off and started to realize there's a lot more to his character that's really missed in AC3. His pomeranians, his Mohawk wife and twins, his reason for hating George Washington. Really love to know how Ubisoft explains how he's in the US in 1760 when Ziio dies and again for the Boston Massacre. He'd be in Europe both times, and if he just up and left, he would've been hanged for desertion upon returning. I very much doubt Haytham had many allies left in Europe after what happened with Reginald.

Charles really does take a massive 180 between when Haytham first meets him and just 4 years later when Connor first meets him. There's really no explanation for it. Almost like he got a lobotomy or a massive head injury in that time frame to suddenly change personalities. At least it could've been touched on in Forsaken. But brings me back to Ubisoft needing to do short stories in addition to the novels that focus on other characters. There's too many plot holes. :p

I also wish Charles Lee, Haytham, etc had been in ToKW rather than just writing off Haytham as being dead and the others MIA. Would've been far more interesting to see how Connor changes his attitude toward Charles, etc if they were on the same side. Especially after my little finding regarding Charles's cousins. Jefferson, although nice to see, was way out in left field. He should've been in the main game for a cameo or left out entirely, and Charles, etc should've been in ToKW. Certainly would've made the third part far more entertaining.