A Complete Breakdown of the Crawley Family From “Downton Abbey”
“Downton Abbey” has a truly enormous cast of characters, many of whom are part of the aristocratic Crawley family the overarching story has revolved around over the span of 12 years. If you’re still trying to remember who’s who, we’ve got you covered! Here’s what to know about this sprawling family tree.
The grande dame matriarch of the whole Crawley family is Violet, the dowager countess of Grantham. Born the daughter of a baronet, she was married to the sixth earl of Grantham, Patrick, and has two children: Robert and Rosamund.
Robert and Cora Crawley
Robert is the seventh earl of Grantham, inheriting the title after his father’s death. As a young man, he was aware that the family’s financial status was getting precarious. Like many other titled men of his era, he set out to make a wealthy match to save his family and estate. He married Cora, the daughter of a dry-goods multimillionaire, and her fortune became tied up in the estate. Although the marriage was initially more of a business dealing (with only Cora developing any real feelings), Robert fell in love with Cora about a year into their marriage, and they have been happily married ever since. They have three daughters: Mary, Edith, and Sybil.
Born Lady Rosamund Crawley, “Aunt Rosamund” is Robert’s sister and Violet’s daughter. She married Marmaduke Painswick, who was an extremely wealthy banker but had no title of his own. Widowed relatively young, Rosamund now spends her time living an elegant life in London and frequently getting involved in the lives of her brother and his daughters.
Mary, Edith, and Sybil Crawley
Mary, the eldest Crawley sister, is initially betrothed to her cousin Patrick, since she is not allowed to inherit her father’s estate and title in her own right. After he dies along with his father on the Titanic, she refuses to even consider the same arrangement with the new heir, Matthew. Over time, however, the two fall in love and, after quite a few ups and downs, marry. Tragically, Matthew is killed in a car crash on the same day that Mary gives birth to their son and heir, George, who is now next in line for the earldom. Years later, Mary remarries to Henry Talbot, a race-car driver and businessman. They have a daughter, Caroline, and they spend more time apart than they’d like due to Henry’s work travel.
Edith, the middle daughter, goes through the wringer emotionally for much of the story. Her first engagement, to the much-older Sir Anthony Strallan, ends when he leaves her at the altar. She next falls in love with Michael Gregson, her editor at the newspaper where she writes a column, but he reveals that he is technically still married to his first wife, whose mental incapacity means he cannot get a divorce. He plans to go to Germany and get citizenship there so that he can get a divorce and marry Edith. They spend one night together before he leaves, resulting in a daughter, Marigold, before Michael is tragically killed in a failed Nazi coup. Edith struggles to find a way to keep her daughter in her life, eventually crafting a story to allow the family to take in Marigold as a “ward.” Eventually, she falls in love with Bertie Pelham, a land agent and a cousin of the marquess of Hexham. When Bertie’s cousin unexpectedly dies, Bertie inherits the marquessate. Although Bertie initially balks after learning the truth about Marigold, he apologises to Edith and proposes. They marry, making Edith the marchioness of Hexham, and they eventually have a son, Peter.
Sybil is the youngest and most rebellious of the Crawley sisters. She befriends Tom Branson, the chauffeur at Downton, over their shared progressive politics. Over the years, their friendship turns romantic, and she goes against her family to marry him and leave for Ireland. They return to Downton while Sybil is pregnant with their first child, but Sybil dies from pre-eclampsia shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Sybbie. Tom spends the next several years as a widower, although he does slowly become a true part of the Crawley family. He, too, finds love again in the end, falling for Lucy Smith, the secret daughter (and heiress) of one of Robert’s cousins.
Isobel and Matthew Crawley
After the Titanic tragedy, the heir to Downton is Matthew Crawley, Robert’s third cousin once removed. Matthew, along with his widowed mother, Isobel, move to Downton to join the family and learn about the estate. Despite getting off to a rocky start, Matthew falls in love with Robert’s eldest daughter, Mary. They marry and have a son, George, but Matthew dies in a car accident the same day their son is born.
Isobel remains a part of the family even after Matthew’s death, developing a prickly rivalry/friendship with Violet in particular. Eventually, she remarries as well, marrying Richard “Dickie” Grey (aka Lord Merton) and becoming a baroness.
The MacClare Family
Although not Crawleys by name, the MacClare family are related to the Crawleys through Violet: Violet’s niece and goddaughter, Susan, married Lord Flintshire (aka Hugh “Shrimpie” MacClare). Hugh and Susan have three children (James, Annabelle, and Rose), but only one – their youngest daughter, Rose – plays a major role in the series. Eventually, Rose marries Atticus Aldridge, the son of a Jewish family and newly raised to a baron title. After marrying, they move to New York and have a daughter.
Other Family Members
The entire drama of “Downton Abbey” begins with the deaths of two Crawleys on the Titanic. James Crawley was Patrick and Violet’s nephew, being the son of the sixth earl’s younger brother. He also had a son, Patrick, presumably named for his uncle. Because Robert and Cora have no sons, James was the next-closest male relative and thus Robert’s heir. His son, Patrick, would have been earl after him, which is why the family wished Mary, Robert’s eldest daughter, to marry Patrick. Of course, the Titanic disaster put an end to that plan and sent the succession further down the Crawley family tree.
We also meet some of the Levinsons, Cora’s family. Cora’s irrepressible mother, Martha, is the one responsible for getting her into British society in the first place. Cora also has a brother, Harold, who has never married or had children.