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This is a list of characters from the British/American period drama series Downton Abbey, co-produced by British media company Carnival Films and Masterpiece for the ITV and PBS networks, respectively.
Robert Crawley, 5th  Earl of Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville), also called The Earl of Grantham or Lord Grantham, was born in the 1800s at Downton Abbey. His late father was the 4th Earl of Grantham and his mother is Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. He has a younger sister named Rosomund. Despite the family's relatively poor financial situation, Robert's education was very privileged and he was tutored from ages 7 to 13, before attending Eton and then Christ College, Oxford, where he studied philosophy.
To ensure the survival of the estate, Robert's father knew that Robert would have to marry a wealthy heiress who would bring a large dowry to the estate. At a young age, Robert married Cora Levinson, an American, and the only daughter of Isidore and Martha Levinson. Isidore was an American millionaire, and when Cora married Robert, Robert's father insisted that she sign an entailment which legally combined the estate with Cora's fortune. Robert was forced into the marriage by his father, and Cora by hers. Robert's father wanted Robert to marry a rich girl; Isidore wanted Cora to marry into the English aristocracy. He has later said that he was ashamed of his motives for pursuing Cora. After about a year of marriage, however, Robert truly fell in love with Cora and they eventually had three daughters: Mary, Edith, and Sybil. Because of the entail, as they had no sons, Robert's heir was the closest male relative, his cousin James. However, when James and his only son Patrick both died in the sinking of the Titanic, Robert's heir became his third cousin once removed, Matthew Crawley, a young middle-class solicitor from Manchester setting the stage for him to inherit not only the Abbey and its estate, but also Cora's fortune. They try to have the entailment voided so that their eldest daughter Mary could inherit everything in her own right, but to no avail.
The earl served in the Second Boer War from 1899–1902 where John Bates, later to be his valet, was his batman. He is the Lord Lieutenant for Yorkshire and even though he wants to serve in front during Great War, he is made a Colonel of his old regiment. He is immensely proud of Downton as the place he grew up and takes his responsibility for the estate very seriously. Robert considers Downton's nurturing of him, and his nurture of the estate, to be like having a third parent and a fourth child. There are references in the series to Robert sitting as a Conservative member of the House of Lords, although this is only implied.
He loves his daughters very much, but Robert has always longed for a son who would be a true heir to the estate. His wish almost became reality with Cora's surprise fourth pregnancy, but it ended in a miscarriage. For a short time, feeling ignored by Cora, he became infatuated with a housemaid, Jane Moorsum (whose husband had been killed in the First World War), and they seemed on the verge of an affair, but came to their senses after a timely interruption by an oblivious Mr. Bates. To avoid further incidents, Jane decided to leave Downton. Out of kindness, Robert pulled some strings so that Jane's highly intelligent son Freddie could go to Ripon Grammar School, and he gave Jane the name and address of his man of business, to give Freddie a start in life.
Although in some ways his character embodies the traditional values of the aristocracy, Robert does not shun all progress as he allows telephones and electricity to be installed at Downton and, after initial dismay and anger, gives his blessing to his daughter Sybil's marriage to family chauffeur Tom Branson. In Tom's own words, Robert is a good man and a decent employer. He is compassionate, friendly, intelligent, honourable and reasonable.
When Matthew and his mother Isobel arrive at Downton, the family are initially wary of them, because they are middle class and not aristocrats, and the family resent that the estate is to pass to Matthew. Robert is the only one who welcomes them without reservation, and he becomes friends with Isobel and a surrogate father to Matthew. He is enthusiastic about the idea of Mary marrying Matthew, thus keeping the estate and fortune in his immediate family, and can't understand when they fall out with each other at the end of series one. He dislikes Sir Richard Carlisle because of his rude and selfish behaviour, and is pleased when Mary decides to end her engagement to him. Robert also forgives Mary when he learns of her indiscretion with Kemal Pamuk, telling her that she is "not the only Crawley to have made a mistake".
He is very protective of his family and servants, and in many cases treats the servants almost like family members. He is loyal, going to great lengths to retain the slightly disabled John Bates as his valet. He is respectful to Mr. Lang, who serves as his valet during the First World War, although Lang is suffering from shellshock and proves unfit to work. When William Mason, a footman, is given a white feather of cowardice by some women from the village during the First World War, Robert angrily throws them out of his house. When William is called up to fight, Robert does his best to keep him out of danger by getting him appointed as Matthew's batman. He also pays for Mrs. Patmore's eye surgery when she starts to go blind. When Thomas, then his valet, is caught kissing Jimmy, the new footman, and is subsequently pressured to leave Downton, Robert asserts his authority over the staff politics and promotes him to underbutler. In addition, after Alfred reports Thomas's "indecent assault" to the police and they come round to investigate, Robert convinces Alfred to recant his story, thus protecting Thomas from an almost certain prison sentence and public disgrace.
Despite these virtues, Robert's adherence to tradition has let him down in other ways. Although he eventually comes to accept Branson as part of the family, their initial exchanges are fraught with thinly-veiled insults and disdain; likewise, he has little patience for Sybil's aspirations to participate in politics. His attitudes also occasionally clash with that of the more progressive and pragmatic Cora; while she becomes highly active during the period in which Downton acts as a convalescent home for injured First World War veterans, Robert is largely reduced to a figurehead.
In series 3, it is revealed that he made poor investments during the war that financially cripple Downton to the point of bankruptcy; it is only through the timely intervention of Matthew that the Crawley family is allowed to remain on the estate. Despite this, Matthew becomes concerned that Robert is mismanaging the property, which leads to tension between them; however, by the end of the series Robert comes to value Matthew and, surprisingly, Branson's business sense.
The future of Downton is once again thrown into turmoil in Series 4 with the death of Matthew at the end of the second Christmas Special. Although the birth of his son George means there is now a direct heir, Matthew's death and apparent lack of a will mean that death duties will have to be paid on the half of the estate that Matthew owned, and Lady Mary now owns only a small portion of the estate, meaning she has very little control over how Downton is run. Mary herself has done nothing but grieve since Matthew died, and Robert is against her doing anything other than recover. This once again causes tension between himself and Branson (though he has accepted Branson as part of the family), who thinks that Mary should have a say in the running of the estate. Branson also disagrees with Robert about how the death duties should be paid off. After Mary partially recovers from her grief, a letter is discovered that can be interpreted to be Matthew's will after all, in which he leaves his entire half of the estate to Mary. Mary now prepares to take a hand in the running of the estate, something that is shown to irritate Robert, particularly as she is learning about the estate from Branson, and has been persuaded to see his side of the argument.
Cora Crawley (née Levinson) (played by Elizabeth McGovern), also called The Countess of Grantham or Lady Grantham, was born in 1868 to Isidore Levinson, a millionaire dry goods merchant, and his wife Martha Levinson. Cora is the wife of Robert and mother of Mary, Edith and Sybil. In 1888, at the age of 20, she married Robert Crawley. She was pressured into the marriage by her father, who wanted nothing more for his daughter than for her to marry a member of the English aristocracy (as did many Americans at the time). Her father-in-law compelled her to sign a legal entail, meaning her dowry would become legally attached to the estate and her money would go to whoever inherited the title. However, her father-in-law had done this in the assumption that she would have a son. When she did not, the heir became Robert's cousin James. James had a son, Patrick, and he and Mary were persuaded by their parents to become engaged.
When both James and Patrick drown on the Titanic, Matthew Crawley becomes heir to the title, the estate and Cora's dowry. At first, Cora and Violet try to break the entail but they learn that this will require a private Bill in Parliament which can only be passed if the estate is in danger. After that, she and Violet try to get Mary to marry Matthew. In the summer of 1914, Cora is surprised to find that she has become pregnant. However, when her maid O'Brien is mistakenly led to believe that Cora intends to replace her, she intends vengeance by deliberately leaving a bar of soap beside the bathtub. O'Brien soon has an attack of conscience, but before she can act Cora slips on the soap and suffers a miscarriage.
During the First World War, Cora is reluctantly convinced by Isobel Crawley to open up Downton as a convalescent home for soldiers returning from the field. Although she comes to enjoy the work, maintaining the household takes up so much of her time that she begins to neglect Robert, who briefly considers an affair with one of the housemaids. It also puts her in conflict with Isobel, whose intentions for the convalescent home were more self-serving than she would admit. However, they reconcile and combine forces to give aid to refugees after the war ends. Shortly after the war, Cora is bedridden with Spanish influenza and nearly dies before making a full recovery.
In the first series, Cora is often shown as in conflict with her mother-in-law Violet, which is attributed to the underlying difference in their cultural origins and social class: Cora is an American and daughter of nouveau riche parents, while the dowager countess is descended from English nobility. While Cora has adopted her husband's lifestyle, her character is portrayed as more forward-thinking and open-minded than that of her mother-in-law, a trait her husband and daughters attribute to her "American-ness". While historically, members of the aristocracy rarely had occupations during the time period portrayed in the series, Cora defends Matthew's decision to continue working after being named heir and later supports Sybil's choice to take up nursing.
When Sybil dies in childbirth in the third series, Cora becomes estranged from Robert due to his favoring a renowned obstetrician over Dr. Clarkson; their conflicting views on how to handle the birth presumably causes a misdiagnosis of Sybil's condition. After Violet pressures Clarkson into admitting that Sybil would have died regardless of their efforts, Cora forgives Robert.
Violet Crawley (played by Maggie Smith), is Robert's mother and widow of the previous earl. Violet was born in the 1840s to a baronet. Violet also has a sister, the mother of her niece Susan, who is married to the Marquess of Flintshire, known as Shrimpy. In the 1860s, Violet was pursued by Lord Hepworth of Hatton Park.
Violet symbolises the "old world" and order of the pre-war days and sometimes has difficulty accepting change. When Robert has electricity and telephones installed, she complains to him about the amount of light in the house and the "loud noises" the phone makes; she is even confused by a swivel chair. Initially she is opposed to Matthew's position as heir as he is from the upper middle/professional class and not the aristocracy. She is also shocked at their more modern attitudes but comes to accept Matthew and later his mother, Isobel, into the family. Violet sees that the possibility of Mary marrying Matthew could well be the answer to the family's problems, she discusses the possibility with her daughter-in-law Cora. Following Matthew's proposal, and the unexpected pregnancy of Cora, Violet believes it is still in Mary's best interests to accept Matthew's proposal, as Matthew is unlikely to accept her if he inherits everything, if Mary does not want him if he ends up with nothing. The interference of Violet's daughter Rosamund, as well as the unfortunate incident involving Mr Pamuk, results in Mary's hesitance in accepting the proposal, causing Matthew to withdraw it. When Isobel, who was also in favour of the engagement, confronts Violet about the business, Violet reacts with her typical acid tongue in blaming Rosamund for the way things turned out. When Matthew announces his engagement to Lavinia, who is from a similar background to Matthew, she broods over the fact that Lavinia was not of a higher social standing.
Violet is portrayed as a matriarchal figure and quick of wit despite her age. She is immensely proud of her son and loves her granddaughters very much. At heart, Violet is a kind woman who has less trouble in accepting people for their worth than she wants to admit. When her nephew, James, the heir to Downton, and his son, Patrick, die in the sinking of the Titanic and Matthew appears on the scene, she disapproves of him and favours Mary, preferring that the entail be broken so that Mary can inherit the estate. She is protective of her family and wants the best for them even if her logic is sometimes flawed. When her youngest granddaughter, Sybil, insists on marrying Tom Branson, the family chauffeur, Violet assures Robert that she will "minimise the damage" by making up details about Branson's family to make the marriage more acceptable to their social class. She is also quick to defend Mary when she is threatened by Sir Richard Carlisle after Mary calls off their engagement.
Although Violet has been accused of being unable to communicate across the class divide, she is kind and compassionate to the servants. When it becomes apparent that one of their footmen, William, has been fatally wounded, Violet, backed by Lady Edith and William's father, insist that William is brought back to Downton so he can die in familiar surroundings with friends and family. She also insists that the local vicar wed William and Daisy, the scullery maid/kitchen maid, and attends the ceremony. Later, Daisy feels guilty about it and is discovered crying while cleaning the fireplace. Violet goes against social norm to hear Daisy out and comfort her.
Throughout the Great War, Violet remains a strong influence at Downton Abbey but finds her influence under threat. She has a tendency to quarrel with Isobel Crawley, Matthew's mother. As president of the Downton Hospital, Violet had complete control over the hospital and its lead doctor, Richard Clarkson. A trained nurse and physician's widow, Mrs Crawley begins to push the doctor into pursuing more modern medical practices, much to Violet's horror. Violet is also frequently shown at odds with Cora due to their conflicting cultural backgrounds: for example, she protests when Cora agrees to opening some of the rooms as a convalescence unit in response to the large number of war wounded returning home and the two come into conflict over certain issues such as management style.
Mary Josephine Crawley (née Crawley) (played by Michelle Dockery), the eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham, is twenty-one in April 1912, when the series begins. Early on, she is portrayed as a petulant and cold young woman; as the series progresses, however, she shows more vulnerability and compassion. One of her most constant traits is her unfailing devotion to Downton as her home and, eventually, the estate which she will preside over.
In the first episode, news of the deaths of her two cousins, James and Patrick, is a shock because it disrupts the family's strategy for dealing with the entail that requires the estate, incorporating her mother's large marriage settlement, as well as the title to pass to male heirs. The family had arranged that Mary would marry Patrick, second in line to the title after James, but Mary did not have strong feelings for him and questions whether she must even wear mourning clothes. Early on in the series, she is seduced by a visitor to the house, Ottoman attaché Kemal Pamuk, who suddenly dies in her bed. Her infuriated mother and the housemaid Anna help her carry his body out of her room and back to his own to try and prevent a public scandal that would ruin her marriage prospects.
Mary's relationship with the new heir, distant cousin, Matthew Crawley, begins coldly as she overhears him complaining to his mother that he expects the family will "push" the daughters on him. She refuses to acknowledge him as the new heir, declaring that he was "not one of us". Over time, however, the pair grow closer and a romance develops. In 1914, Matthew asks Mary to marry him, but she is hesitant. However her mother becomes pregnant, and if the baby is a boy, he will inherit the title instead of Matthew, so Mary refuses Matthew on the advice of her aunt, Lady Rosamund. Another reason for her hesitancy was that she feels she would have to tell Matthew about the one-night "fling" with Pamuk. Heartbroken and angered by her supposed motive, Matthew withdraws his proposal and decides to leave Downton. When the First World War is declared, Matthew joins the British Army and becomes engaged to Lavinia Swire.
As Matthew fights in Europe, Mary gets engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle, a newspaper magnate who — after Mary's confession and request for his assistance — promises to help keep the Pamuk affair under wraps. They plan to marry in July 1919, after the marriage of Matthew and Lavinia, and to move to a neighbouring, stately home that Sir Richard plans to buy and completely renovate. After Lavinia's death, it becomes clear that Matthew and Mary still have feelings for each other. Her relationship with Sir Richard deteriorates, and Lord Grantham, in particular, becomes concerned that she would not be happy with the marriage even if it meant wealth and status. In 1920, Mary breaks off the engagement to Sir Richard and, when he threatens to publicise the Pamuk affair, initially agrees to visit her mother's family in America to wait out the furore. However, at Christmas, Matthew proposes to her again, and the two become engaged.
The couple, after a brief moment of doubt the night before the wedding, happily marry in series 3. After her youngest sister Sybil dies, Mary supports her brother-in-law Tom Branson's decision to raise her niece and goddaughter, Sybil "Sybbie" Branson, a Catholic. While she and Matthew are intent on having children, it is hinted throughout the series that they could be having trouble conceiving. Matthew believes he might not be able to have children since he suffered a severe back injury at Amiens in 1918 during the First World War, and was temporarily paralysed from the waist down. In the penultimate episode of Series 3, Mary and Matthew meet by coincidence at a reproductive health clinic in London, where Mary reveals to Matthew that she underwent a small and successful operation in order to strengthen their chances of conceiving, although it is not disclosed exactly what her problem was. Despite previous tension between them, the series ends with them happily reaffirming their love for each other as they celebrate the birth of their son, George. Unfortunately, Matthew is killed in a car accident after leaving the maternity hospital on his drive back to Downton. Due to Matthew's death, she has missed her chance to be Countess of Grantham.
For months she remains in mourning, until the combined efforts of Carson, Tom, and Violet bring her out of it. Robert tries to keep full control over Downton, but then a letter is found from Matthew stating he intended to name Mary his sole heiress in his will. Though he never actually wrote a will, it is determined that the letter was meant to serve as a will. Mary as a result owns half the estate. She immediately begins working with Tom more in the management of the estate. She later urges Tom to speak to her when she sees something is wrong (namely Edna Braithwaite's evil scheme). He feels she would despise her and says nothing. She tells him she once said that to someone and he didn't (Matthew about Pamuk). Nevertheless when he remains silent she urges him to find someone that he can talk to, because he would feel better. Later, when Tom presents the family with the idea of leaving, perhaps for America, she is the only one who speaks out against it.
She eventually has three suitors. First is Anthony Foyle, Lord Gillingham, an old childhood acquaintance whom she turns down as she hasn't moved on from Matthew. He becomes engaged to another woman, but calls it off as he still as feelings for Mary. Later, Evelyn Napier returns with his boss, Charles Blake. Mary and Blake do not get off well, until both dirty themselves in order to help out some pigs (the family is entering pig farming). Then they warm up to one another. When Mary learns from Anna that she was raped by Lord Gillingham's valet Green, she goes to Gillingham and urges him to sack Green without telling him why.
After Rose declares to Mary her intentions to marry African American jazz singer Jack Ross, Mary goes and speaks to him, citing that she feels Rose's primary reason is to shock her mother, whom she hates. Jack tells her he does not want Rose to suffer and has already decided to break off their relationship. When he tells her he wouldn't do it if they lived in a better world, Mary replies that if they were in a better world, she wouldn't want him to.
Edith Crawley (played by Laura Carmichael), the second daughter to Lord and Lady Grantham, is twenty in April 1912, when the series begins. During the first series Edith is often the "forgotten" one, as she was not considered as pretty and smooth-talking as her older sister, Mary, and less daring and passionate than Sybil, the youngest. Her bitter rivalry with Mary is further fueled by the fact that Edith genuinely loved the dead heir, Patrick, but no one took her feelings seriously and instead Mary, who had no feelings for Patrick, was engaged to him.
After initially trying to woo Matthew Crawley, she begins a relationship with Sir Anthony Strallan. Towards the end of series one he is on the verge of asking for her hand, but changes his mind when Mary tricks him into thinking that Edith was simply leading him on for her own amusement. Anthony Strallan was Edith's last chance at making a successful marriage, and Mary intentionally intervened in revenge, because Edith had written a letter to the Turkish Embassy in London informing them about the exact nature of their attaché's death in Mary's bed, which was one of the most important factors in her hesitance to accept Matthew's proposal, which results in Matthew withdrawing it.
During the second series, Edith steps out of her comfort zone. She was the first of the Crawley family to learn how to drive an automobile, taking lessons from the chauffeur, Branson. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Edith uses her driving skills to work on a local farm driving tractors, much to the bemusement and gratitude of the farmer. She is exposed to the horrors of war firsthand while helping Sybil and the nurses care for the wounded soldiers. As a result, she becomes more sympathetic and was commended by a visiting general Matthew brought back to Downton while on leave. After the war ended, she tries to resume a relationship with Sir Anthony Strallan, but he refuses as he sustained a severe injury that rendered one of his arms useless, and does not want to tie her down to a disabled veteran.
In series 3 Sir Anthony Strallan eventually proposes to Lady Edith and they become engaged. Some of the family are quietly disapproving of the marriage, but they allow it for Edith's happiness. They are set to marry, but Anthony has second thoughts and jilts her at the altar, leaving Edith devastated, believing she is destined to the life of a spinster. In episode 6, she receives a very interesting proposition to write in a newspaper after writing a letter about women's suffrage. The prospect excites her, and most of the family – with the exception of Violet and Robert – encourage her.
When Lady Edith notices that her editor, Michael Gregson, seems to have romantic feelings for her, she makes inquiries about him. Finding out that he is married, Edith questions him. He tells her that his wife is mentally incapacitated, and is no longer able to recognise him, so he is stuck and unable to move on with his life. Despite having fallen in love with Edith, he decides to step away when her family disapprove of his intentions toward her. The final straw is thought to have come when Matthew, who Edith hoped would understand, comes down on the side of the other Crawleys, advising Gregson to bid Edith goodbye. However, Edith realizes that she loves Gregson, and decides to pursue a relationship with him despite the fact that it cannot lead to a proper marriage. In Series 4, Gregson begins searching for ways to divorce his wife, and learns that by becoming a German citizen, he may be able to achieve this and marry Edith. Gregson soon disappears, after which Edith finds out she is pregnant with his child, increasing her worry.
As much as she loves Michael and wants his child, she is afraid of becoming an outcast for having a child out of wedlock. Having heard of a secret underground clinic where abortions are performed, she reluctantly decides to go there. After her aunt Rosamund learns the truth, she offers her support and her worries for Edith doing this. Nevertheless she goes with her, but when Edith sees another woman there in tears, she leaves immediately without going through with it. Edith considers giving the child away to a local farmer, but Rosamund instead proposes going abroad and giving the child away there, so Edith's reputation is safe. Eventually Violet finds out and agrees with Rosamund. But Edith now does not like the thought of giving her child away, wanting to be a part of its growing up.
Lady Sybil Branson (née Crawley) 1895–1920 (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) is the third daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham, born in 1895. She is fiercely political (devoted to the cause of votes for women) which fuels her desire to break free from the social restrictions of the times. During one episode, she don a pair of trousers, which were daring for women at the time, which somewhat shocks the family, especially the Dowager Countess. During another episode, against the will of her father, she attends the reading of the results of a by-election in the local town, where there is a disturbance and she is injured. At one point, she requests cooking lessons from Mrs Patmore and Daisy to help prepare herself for nurses training college in York. During the First World War, Sybil is distressed when she learns that her friend Tom Ballasis was killed in action, deciding to become an auxiliary nurse with the encouragement of Mrs Crawley and the Dowager Countess. Now called "Nurse Crawley", she tends to the sick and wounded soldiers both at Downton and in the nearby village.
After developing a brief crush on her cousin Matthew, she develops stronger feelings for Tom Branson, the family's chauffeur and a staunch Irish nationalist. For several years, the couple carry out a secretive courtship, knowing that their relationship would not be accepted by her family. Throughout the series, Sybil seems detached from the family quarrels about inheritance; this is most evident when Sybil reveals their love to her family and declares she doesn't want any money from the estate if it means they have to be apart. By the end of the second series, the couple leave for Dublin, having gained Lord Grantham's blessing and the offer of a small dowry. The pair marry in a small ceremony, attended by Sybil's sisters.
By December 1919, Sybil is pregnant and writes to her mother to inform her that she is to become a grandmother. Cora is excited by the prospect while Robert is still resentful, declaring that he will not visit her. Cora, however, warns Robert that she will not let him keep her from her grandchild and says that he should accept Sybil's new family with as much grace as possible.
In the third series, Sybil and Tom briefly visit Downton for Mary and Matthew's wedding. When Tom witnesses fellow Irish Republicans burning down the home of a wealthy nobleman, he fears he will be implicated and flees to Downton alone, leaving pregnant Sybil to follow on her own. Despite mutual distrust, Lord Grantham defends Tom with the Home Secretary, eventually securing his freedom on condition that he not return to Ireland. Not long after, Sybil goes into a progressively difficult labour. Dr Clarkson and Lady Grantham believe that Sybil is suffering from eclampsia and must be sent to hospital, while Lord Grantham and his hired physician, Sir Philip Tapsell, believe she is fine and should remain at Downton. The night after giving birth to a baby daughter, Sybil dies surrounded by her loved ones at the age of 24. Her death leads to a temporary estrangement between Lord Grantham and his wife, but they reconcile when Dr Clarkson (under pressure from the Dowager Countess) assures them that the chances of Sybil's survival from a Caesarean section were negligible. Sybil's daughter is later named after her, and is nicknamed "Sybbie". Her husband and child now permanently live at Downton.
Matthew Reginald Crawley (played by Dan Stevens) (1885–1921)  is the son of the late Dr Reginald Crawley, a physician, and Mrs Isobel Crawley, a trained nurse. He is Lord Grantham's third cousin once removed, and works as a qualified solicitor in Manchester. After the immediate heirs perish on the Titanic, the family lawyer discovers that Matthew is the next closest relative and Lord Grantham invites him to move to Downton Abbey and become part of the local community. Matthew eventually agrees, on the condition that he continue to work. His arrival is initially met with skepticism from the rest of the family and servants, especially Violet, as he was a "middle class lawyer". As the new heir presumptive he finds it difficult at first to adjust to the change in lifestyle. He refuses to adopt their traditionalist views, but is eventually accepted into the family and becomes something of a surrogate son to Lord Grantham.
After a lukewarm introduction to each other, he and Mary begin to fall in love. It is thought the two will marry, though when Cora becomes pregnant and there is a chance that Matthew will not inherit the earldom after all, Mary is advised by her Aunt Rosamund to refuse his proposal. Unfortunately, Cora miscarries when she slips in the bathroom and so there is no longer any doubt about Matthew being the heir to the earldom. Matthew withdraws his proposal from Mary after she hesitates to accept him as he is unsure of her motives. He later becomes engaged to Miss Lavinia Swire, daughter of a London businessman.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, he volunteers to join the British Army and is commissioned as a lieutenant, later promoted to captain. He is injured whilst serving alongside the family's footman William Mason in France but saved from death by William, who shielded him from an explosion but later succumbs to his own injuries. Matthew is paralysed from the waist down, and despite being told that he will never walk again and can no longer have children, Lavinia continues to care for him and does not call off the engagement. Following a miraculous and happy recovery, he and Mary realise that they are still in love, but he informs her that Lavinia's efforts to recuperate him even when it was thought that he could not have children mean that he cannot break up their relationship, for he is indebted to her. When Lavinia dies of Spanish influenza at Downton, he is plunged into grief and vows that neither he nor Mary deserve the happiness they want by being together, because it would be an insult to Lavinia's memory. He tells Mary, "You and I are cursed." He is later persuaded to think differently and proposes to Mary in January 1920. This time, she accepts.
Matthew finally marries Lady Mary in the spring of 1920. It is discovered that at some point prior, his father-in-law, Lord Grantham, made a disastrous financial investment in a Canadian Railroad and has been mismanaging the running of the estate for many years, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. Matthew, with the help of brother-in-law Tom Branson, tries very hard to make Downton financially secure for Mary and their assumptive future children. Matthew brings his background in law and the private sector to bear in managing Downton, along with taking on Branson to direct the estate due to his pragmatism and having some knowledge of farming from his grandfather. Lord Grantham, who has agreed to make Matthew joint owner of Downton, is very slow to accept that Matthew and Branson make a brilliant team. Although Mary and Matthew sometimes disagree on various issues, they have a very happy marriage. Mary tells Matthew in bed, "we must never take us for granted; we don't know what's coming." Matthew ominously responds, "I will love you forever until the last breath leaves my body."
Although only a few months have passed since their marriage, Mary is still not pregnant and both secretly think that they have fertility problems. A year later, Mary finally gives birth in September 1921. Lord Grantham finally admits in the final episode of series three that Matthew has saved Downton, and he trusts his business and legal instincts. He seems to finally accept Matthew as the son he never had. While Lord Grantham is telling his family how thankful he is for Matthew and the new baby, Matthew is driving home to tell the waiting family about the baby. Matthew is gloriously happy (telling Mary after meeting his newborn son, "I feel like I've just swallowed a box of firecrackers"). While still awash in the glow of his love for Mary and his baby son, he looks at the surrounding trees as his open top car speeds up the narrow road to Downton Abbey. Not paying attention to the road, he swerves to avoid another vehicle and tumbles down an embankment (not shown, except for tire tracks in the soil). The car flips over on top of Matthew, crushing his body, and killing him almost instantly.
Isobel Crawley (née Turnbull) (played by Penelope Wilton) is Matthew's widowed mother. Originally from Manchester, she is the daughter of a doctor (her husband Reginald Crawley studied under her father) and her brother is also a doctor. Isobel was a nurse during the Boer War and initially helps Dr Clarkson at the village hospital, much to his chagrin (as she constantly undermines his decisions). Upon moving to Downton she and Matthew live in a relatively modest dwelling with a butler, Molesley, and a cook, Mrs Bird. Isobel embodies a different set of values to those of the Crawleys. When she and Matthew first arrive at Downton she tells him that while she will not alter her lifestyle, and neither will she succumb to their stereotypes and expectations. Her more modern and liberal values put her at odds with Violet for most of the first series.
In the second series, Isobel takes up a position of authority at Downton when, at her suggestion, it is turned into a convalescent home for injured soldiers. At first expecting to be in charge of the day-to-day operations, she engages in a rather petty power struggle with Cora, much to the amusement of their children, and eventually leaves Downton for France to work with the Red Cross. She later returns when she discovers that Matthew was badly injured in the war, and stays at Downton for the remainder of the war. Although initially opposed to Matthew's relationship with Lady Mary after the death of his fiancée Lavinia, she helps to persuade him to propose to her again, which he does, and Lady Mary accepts. Towards the end of the second series she leaves to work for a war refugee organisation, encouraged by Cora (for her own reasons).
In the third series, Isobel helps prostitutes and other down-on-their-luck women change their way of life. She equally gives a hand to Ethel by employing her as a cook, to the consternation of her current cook Mrs. Bird. Although she had a contentious working relationship with Dr. Clarkson in Series one and two, while helping out at his village hospital, she and Clarkson suddenly form a friendly relationship. Dr. Clarkson is ready to propose marriage, but Isobel tells him she is happy to have his friendship.
Following Matthew's death at the end of the second Christmas special, Isobel is completely grief-stricken like Mary. She feels as if she has nothing to live for, although the Dowager Countess, Lady Edith and Mrs Hughes all think otherwise. When Mrs Hughes discovers Mr Carson has ignored requests for help from Charlie Grigg, an old friend from Carson's performing days who unsuccessfully attempted to blackmail him in Series 1, and is now in a workhouse, she decides to arrange for him to stay with Isobel. Although Isobel is reluctant at first, she relents, nurses Mr Grigg back to health, and arranges a job for him in Ireland. Though she is saddened at the idea of Mary continuing to live her life as best she can without Matthew, she recognises that it is not Mary's fault, and finds some comfort in the form of consoling words from her once bitter rival, the Dowager Countess.
Rosamund Painswick (née Crawley) (played by Samantha Bond) is Robert's sister. Rosamund lives on her own in a house on Eaton Square in Belgravia, London, which was purchased by her late husband, Mr Marmaduke Painswick, directly after their wedding. They had no children. Her mother looks down on Marmaduke, a wealthy banker, for the humble origins of the Painswick family. Rosamund is first mentioned when she writes a letter to Matthew Crawley, welcoming him into the family. She often writes to her family from London.
Rosamund is one of the more headstrong and outspoken members of the family. She is devoted to Robert and his family and thus feels it is her duty to speak her mind on every possible occasion, though her interference in her nieces' decisions has disastrous results. During the first series, when Matthew's position as heir is in doubt due to Cora's surprise pregnancy, Rosamund convinces Mary not to answer Matthew's marriage proposal. Although Mary's other reason for her silence was the Pamuk affair, Matthew begins to doubt her sincerity and withdraws the proposal, much to the chagrin of Violet. When Matthew brings home his new fiancee Lavinia, Rosamund digs up her past and tries to get Mary to tell Matthew; Mary, who intensely dislikes her aunt's meddling, refuses to blackmail Lavinia. In the Christmas episode she brings her lover Lord Hepworth, a family friend of Violet's, to Downton but Violet discovers that despite his title he is, in effect, on the brink of bankruptcy. In the end they break when it is revealed that he was having an affair with her maid, and Rosamund fumes to Mary about how she hates it whenever "Mama is proven right".
Tom Branson (played by Allen Leech) was initially the family chauffeur, employed midway through Series 1. He aspires to a career in politics, and is a socialist Irish nationalist and republican. It becomes clear that he is political and very determined, much like Lady Sybil. Once in conversation with Sybil he makes no secret of his distaste for the aristocracy and the ruling class, but is quick to add that he respects Lord Grantham and his family for their fairness towards their employees and only disapproves of him as a "representative of the oppressive class". Sybil forces him to take her to the announcement of the by-election results but a group of thugs stir up trouble and they barely escape the chaos, with the help of Matthew. He forms a strong friendship with Lady Sybil, which develops into romantic feelings, but both are afraid to act due to the difference in social class and the potential loss of his job. He refuses to fight for Britain in the First World War but the conflict shows both him and Sybil that the class boundaries are breaking down. After sharing a kiss the pair decide to elope to Gretna Green, but are persuaded to return by Mary and Edith. After breaking the news of their love to the Grantham family and being fired by Lord Grantham in disgrace, Branson finally gets a muted blessing for their wedding and the promise of a small dowry. They travel to Dublin where Tom has found a job as a journalist at a newspaper and are married in a small ceremony which Sybil's sisters attend. However, Cora, Robert and Violet do not go. In December 1919, Sybil writes a letter to her family telling them that she is pregnant.
Tom and Sybil return to Downton Abbey to attend Mary´s and Matthew´s wedding in 1920, Violet having sent them the money to cover their travel expenses because she thinks that their attendance would create less of a topic of conversation in the county than if they were excluded. While the older generation upstairs with the exception of Cora and Isobel and most of the servants find it hard to accept Tom in his new role as a member of the Crawley family, Mary, Edith and Matthew welcome him as their brother-in-law.
Due to his anti-aristocrat feelings and illegal political activities, Tom is a witness as fellow Irish Republicans burn the house of a wealthy Anglo-Irish nobleman. Hunted by the police, he escapes with Sybil and finds refuge at Downton. He admits that he was involved in the planning of the attack and present at its execution but felt sorry for the wealthy nobleman's family. Robert, though outraged, pleads his case with the Home Secretary but only manages to obtain Tom's freedom; he is barred from ever returning to Ireland. When Sybil dies during childbirth in series 3, Tom becomes a widower. He wishes his daughter to be baptised as a Catholic, which Robert does not agree with. But Mary and the rest of the family defend Tom's decision because Sybil had no objection to it. At the end of the series, as suggested by Violet and strongly supported by Cora, Tom becomes the estate agent who will help Matthew to turn Downton into a modern profit making estate. He asks Cora if he and his daughter can stay at Downton while she is young. Cora happily agrees, knowing that it is what Sybil would have wanted. The final image of the series is Tom, Robert, and Matthew happily enjoying a cricket match together, showing that Tom has finally been accepted by Robert into the family.
In the Christmas Special, set one year later, he is shown as the object of affections for the new maid, Edna Braithwaite, who tries to make him feel ashamed of his new position and life in the house. After Edna kisses him and is fired because of it, Tom is shown breaking down in grief over Sybil to Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Hughes touchingly tells him that he should not be ashamed of his achievements in his new station of life and that he is no longer a "downstairs person." Sybil, she believes, would be proud of his accomplishments "above stairs" (being the manager of Downton Abbey).
Edna later returns to Downton to be Lady Grantham's new lady's maid in 1922, using the glowing reference that Mrs Hughes wrote of her at Tom's request, following the sudden departure of Miss O'Brien. Tom consults with Carson and Mrs Hughes when her imminent return is made known to him. Carson, reasoning that there is no way they can refuse her the job without revealing the reason for her firing, which he feels would almost certainly break the hearts of the rest of the Crawley household, decides to allow Edna to take the role, and advises Tom to keep his distance. Tom endeavours to do so, but following a trying time at a party at Downton where many of the Crawley's old friends make him feel hopelessly out of place, is seduced by Edna offscreen after she gives him a large whiskey. Edna then attempts to blackmail Tom into forcing him to marry her if she is carrying his child, trying to make him feel like he is guilty when in truth she is the guilty party. Tom confides in Mrs Hughes (after Mary urges him to confide in someone, seeing something is wrong with him and he refuses to talk to her), who finds a book in Edna's room regarding contraception, and uses it to call Edna's bluff: she would only have gotten pregnant once she got him to agree to marry her, and he would not have been the father. This results in Edna leaving Downton Abbey again, after Mrs Hughes threatens to have her examined by a doctor and not give a reference if she does not stop with her lie or keep quiet.
Though he has come to love his in-laws very much, Tom feels more than ever that he could never fit in at Downton. He feels now he cannot go back to Ireland because they have changed him too much. He does not even know what his beliefs are anymore. He considers leaving for America, where some of his relatives have already gone, feeling also it would be better for his daughter to have a clean start as well, rather than having to live in constant reminder that her father is an "uppity chauffeur". Isobel, who has come to think of Tom as a second son, tries to rekindle his interest in politics. She gets him to go to a political rally, where he meets schoolteacher Sarah Bunting (played by Daisy Lewis).
Tom Branson was supposed to appear in only three episodes of the first series, and Branson was originally Yorkshire-born. Moreover, actor Leech wanted to audition for Thomas Barrow, but chose Branson. Leech's audition for the role convinced Julian Fellows to expand his role and to transform Branson into Irish. Leech tried to work on his Yorkshire accent in effort to prevent his character from becoming the Irish stereotype, but was persuaded that Tom would not become such, prompting him to use his native Irish accent.
Martha Levinson (played by Shirley MacLaine) is Cora's brash, outspoken American mother, a wealthy widow with homes in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. She visits Downton with great fanfare in Series 3 for Mary and Matthew's wedding and then returns to the United States. Unlike Violet, Martha wears up-to-date clothing. Martha has a slightly strained relationship with her daughter Cora, making her rarely visit the house. She is mentioned once in season one when Cora was pregnant with her miscarriage as being very anxious but Violet wrote to her to come admire the baby. Martha left Downton in episode two of season three after an indoor picnic, telling Robert she was "homesick for America".
She decides to return in 1923 with her son Harold for Rose's coming out ball, wanting to see another London season in her life.
Harold Levinson (played by Paul Giamatti) is Cora's brother. His peripheral involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal leads to Martha request that Lord Grantham appear before Congress to vouch for Harold's character late in Series 4. Harold then accompanies his mother to England in 1923.
Sybil "Sybbie" Branson, (b. between 18 August and 30 September 1920) is the only child and daughter of Tom Branson and the late Lady Sybil Branson (née Crawley). She is the first grandchild and first granddaughter of Robert and Cora. She is the great-granddaughter of Violet. She is the niece of Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and the late Matthew Crawley. George Crawley is her first cousin.
Her father named her after her mother, who died of eclampsia shortly after her birth. Her father felt it was right even if it would be painful, stating he wanted to remember her mother whenever he looked at her. After her father and grandfather argued over which church she would be christened into, she was baptized Catholic per her father's wishes. Her father named his brother Kieran and Lady Mary as her godparents. Tom decided he and she would live at Downton until she was older.
George Crawley (born September 1921) is the only child, son and heir of the late Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley. He is the second grandchild and first grandson of Robert and Cora Crawley, The Earl and Countess of Grantham; the first and only grandson of Isobel Crawley; great-grandson of Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham; nephew of Lady Edith, the late Lady Sybil, and Tom Branson, and the only cousin of Sybil Branson, the daughter of the late Lady Sybil and Tom Branson, from the Crawley side as of 1921.
George was born a month early, shortly before his father was killed in a car crash. Following his father's premature death, the infant is the heir presumptive to the Grantham title and the Downton estate.
Charles 'Charlie' Carson (played by Jim Carter) is the butler at Downton Abbey. Mr Carson is in charge of the pantry, wine cellar, and dining room, as well as the male staff, who report to him. He has worked at Downton since he was a young man. He tends towards nostalgia and fears change (such as the installation of telephones in the house). He has a fatherly disposition over the servants, and has a particular fondness for Lady Mary, whom he describes as "his favourite."
For a brief time before entering into household service, Mr Carson was a music hall performer in the vaudeville duo the "Cheerful Charlies" alongside former friend Charlie Grigg. When this secret becomes known in Downton, Carson offers his resignation to Lord Grantham. Amused instead of scandalised at the revelation, Grantham gently declines Carson's offer, ending the matter as a non-issue.
In the second series, with most of the male staff depicted as serving in the First World War, Mr Carson finds himself under mostly self-imposed pressure to ensure household duties are carried out to his exacting standards. Carson is mortified when he suffers severe chest pains while serving the family dinner and as a consequence is forced to accept help from the female staff. After the war, with male staff able to be hired, the full household staff are brought up to the pre-war levels and Mr Carson is able to return to solely undertaking the duties of butler. It is revealed in series 4 that Carson almost married a young woman during his time as a performer but the woman chose the other half of the duo Mr Grigg.
Elsie Hughes (played by Phyllis Logan) is the housekeeper at Downton Abbey. Though unmarried, she is referred to as Mrs Hughes according to traditional titles for servants during the time period. She is originally from Argyll, Scotland, where her father was a farmer. She has one sibling, a sister who lives in Lytham St Annes. Before she came to Downton as head housemaid, she was courted by a farmer, Joe Burns. But she refused him and he married a woman named Ivy and had a son, Peter. In 1913, three years after Ivy dies and his son joins the army, Joe comes to Downton and asks Elsie to marry him, but once again she refuses him, even though she has previously expressed doubts about choosing a life of service over having a husband and family. Outwardly prim and somewhat strict in her manner as housekeeper, Mrs Hughes is essentially kindly and generous, as shown when she assists Ethel after she leaves her position and has a baby out of wedlock. In series 3, she has a breast cancer scare. Luckily for her, the lump was benign. She is best friends with Mrs Patmore.
John Bates (played by Brendan Coyle), who is mainly known as Mr Bates or just Bates, is Lord Grantham's valet. He previously served in the Army alongside the earl as his batman during the Boer Wars and suffered an injury to his right leg. He arrives at Downton in the first episode to replace Lord Grantham's previous valet. When the staff see that he uses a cane, they are at best surprised and at worst angry feeling that they will have to pick up the slack for him, due to his disability slowing him down in the large house. Most of the staff give him the cold shoulder, while Thomas and O'Brien try to get rid of him to further their own ends. Only the housemaid Anna offers him any sympathy and friendship. O'Brien, Cora's lady's maid, schemes to get Cora to talk to Lord Grantham about Bates' unsuitability. And while the household is lined up to receive a duke, O'Brien discreetly kicks Bates' cane on which he was leaning, knocking him on his face in the gravel, in order to cause a scene and bring attention to his disability. Lord Grantham, after being pressured by Cora and Carson to see how Bates is not fulfilling his job properly, regretfully tells Bates that it is not working out. Carson's main complaint is that a valet should perform extra duties outside of just seeing to Lord Grantham, including carrying trays and acting as a third footman if necessary. Bates nearly begs to stay, pointing out that he is unlikely to find another position (because of his disability), but Lord Grantham is unmoved. However, when he sees the departing Bates leaving, Lord Grantham is overcome with feelings of guilt. He runs after the car and orders Bates to get out, telling him to get back inside and that nothing more would be said about him leaving.
Throughout much of the series Bates is at odds with Thomas, who tries to get rid of him so that he can take his place as valet. Bates tries to ignore him at first. Still being ignored by the rest of the staff save Anna, he gains an ally in William when he observes Thomas bullying the younger man, who is suffering with severe homesickness. An overconfident Thomas makes a snide remark that Mr. Bates can do nothing to stop him only for Bates to violently grab him and shove him against the wall, proving that despite his disability he is not to be underestimated.
He and Anna fall in love, but he explains he has yet to divorce his estranged wife, Vera. She comes to Downton only to inform Bates that if he does not come away with her, she will sell the scandalous story of the death of Kemal Pamuk in Mary's bed to the newspapers, which could ruin the reputation of Downton Abbey. Bates goes with her, and it is thought that his romance with Anna is over, despite his constant promising that they will be together someday and that he will find a way to leave his wife. He returns to Downton, having apparently settled affairs with his wife, but Miss O'Brien contacts Vera and once again, she returns to cause more trouble. She manages to stop the divorce that Mr Bates thought was a foregone conclusion, and he goes to London to confront her. After his return, he receives a telegram informing him of her death. It is revealed that she was poisoned by eating rat poison cooked in a pie, and Bates is put under suspicion. Anna insists that they marry so that she will have legal rights if the worst happens. Bates is subsequently charged with murder. He is arrested in front of the entire Downton staff after Lavinia's funeral and is put on trial, during which some other staff members at Downton and Robert are called to testify. The evidence does not portray Bates in a good light; the jury finds him guilty of the murder of his wife, and he is sentenced to be hanged. Determined to prove him innocent, Anna and Robert try to appeal the decision and are successful in reducing Bates' sentence from execution to life imprisonment.
After visiting Bates in prison, Anna declares that she will not rest until Bates had been proven completely innocent and is free. She searches for anyone Vera may have been in contact with, and finds a neighbour who saw her the day of her death. The neighbour mentions she saw Vera cleaning crust from under her nails, confirming she made the pie herself. Although the neighbour at first recants her story, she eventually gives a statement that clears Bates, who is freed from prison, returns to Downton, and moves into a nearby cottage with Anna.
In series 4, Anna is violently raped and Bates is confused and hurt at her attempts to push him away, as he is unaware of Anna's distress. He threatens Mrs Hughes with leaving Downton in order to find out what is wrong with his wife. She reveals the story of Anna's attack but states that the attacker was a stranger who broke in the house. He tells Anna he knows what has happened, and reassures her that he still loves her. The two attempt to move past the attack, but both find it very difficult. Bates is suspicious that the attacker could be Mr Green, valet of Lord Gillingham. When Green returns to the Abbey, Bates is further convinced of his guilt. Bates goes to York for the day but doesn't reveal the reason for going and Mr Green dies after "falling into the road".
Bates does not say much about his family or childhood, though he does mention his late mother was Irish and he has a Scottish grandmother.
Anna May Bates (née Smith) (played by Joanne Froggatt) is Lady's Maid to Lady Mary at Downton Abbey. She is 26 at the beginning of the series. She is very trustworthy, polite, and does the right thing in almost all circumstances. Anna was the member of staff who helped Lady Mary and her mother Cora carry the corpse of Kemal Pamuk out of Lady Mary's bedroom. After a long and somewhat secretive courtship she married valet John Bates in the end of the second series in a private ceremony at a registrar's office. Lady Mary prepares a room for Anna and her husband in the main house so they can spend their wedding night together. Shortly after their wedding night, Bates is arrested for murdering his previous wife, although Anna and the rest of the residents at Downton are convinced that he is innocent. When Bates is deemed guilty and is sentenced to be hanged, Anna breaks down and briefly prepares to leave Downton Abbey with Lady Mary, whom she is very close to, offering to accompany her mistress on an extended holiday to America. When the Crawley's manage to reduce Bates's sentence to life imprisonment, she decides to stay at Downton, although she vows that she will not rest until Bates is free. Anna is promoted from head housemaid to Lady's Maid to Mary during Bates's incarceration. During the time apart from Bates, Anna refuses to fall into hopelessness or despair, though there is a brief period that this wavers, when letters and visits with her husband are stopped for a time. Her efforts to prove her husband's innocence become a success when a neighbor of Vera inadvertently tells Anna details of their last meeting which proves that Vera committed suicide in order to have her husband convicted and hanged for the crime. Bates is freed, and the reunited married couple move into a cottage on the grounds shortly after.
In the third episode of the fourth series, Anna is violently assaulted and raped by Lord Gillingham's valet out of hearing range of the rest of family members and staff attending a concert elsewhere in the house. Anna only tells Mrs Hughes of the crime, fearing her husband could commit murder if he discovered the truth. She becomes distant from everyone, and is unable to even bear Mr Bates' touch, as she confesses to Mrs Hughes that she feels she no longer deserves him, and feels unclean. She decides to move back into Downton Abbey, leaving Mr Bates hurt and confused. Soon, however, Mrs Hughes tells Mr Bates what happened to Anna, although she refuses to disclose who committed the atrocity. Mr Bates reassures Anna that nothing will change between them, and that he will always support her. The two try to continue their lives, however, both find it difficult to look past what has happened. Anna worries that Mr Bates may have something more sinister in mind if her attackers identity is ever revealed.
Thomas Barrow (played by Rob James-Collier) is underbutler at Downton Abbey and arguably the main antagonist of the show, having started his employment there as first footman. Thomas tells O'Brien that his father was a clockmaker. He constantly hatches schemes with O'Brien, intending to have Bates removed from service at Downton. When Bates catches him stealing some of the Abbey's wine, Thomas attempts to frame him for the theft. Bates, however, manages to prove his innocence.
Thomas is also homosexual. In series one, he tries to blackmail his former lover, The Duke of Crowborough. Later, when Kemal Pamuk visits Downton, Thomas is rebuffed when he attempts to kiss the Ottoman diplomat. Pamuk later uses this incident to blackmail Thomas, threatening to inform Lord Grantham about his past unless Thomas agreed to guide Pamuk to the room of Lady Mary Crawley later that same evening.
In series two, the First World War breaks out and Thomas signs up to the Royal Army Medical Corps in an effort to avoid frontline action. However, he ends up on the battlefield anyway. Thomas purposefully puts his hand in the line of fire in order to gain a blighty wound and be sent home. Upon his return to Britain, he gets permission to work at Downton in a military capacity when the residence is made into a hospital for injured officers.
When the war ends, Thomas tries to make a profit by taking advantage of the nationwide rationing by selling goods on the black market. This scheme fails, however, when he is sold worthless goods and is rendered penniless. He returns to Downton as first footman although he, as always, plans to move up to a higher position in the house staff. During Bates' murder trial, Thomas applies for Bates' old job, but is rejected by Lord Grantham. He steals the Crawley family dog, Isis, whom he hopes to "find" to falsely curry Lord Grantham's favour. However, when he goes to reclaim the dog, he discovers her missing, and in his panic trying to find her in the woods, he trips on several fallen branches and falls in the dirt, getting muddied. On returning home, relieved to find that Isis is safe, he learns from Grantham that some children had found and returned the dog, seemingly ruining Thomas' plan. However, his physical dishevelment deceives Grantham into thinking that Thomas has more integrity and concern for the family than Grantham had realised, and Grantham later tells Carson that he is willing to give Thomas a try as valet. In the third series, on O´Brians instigations, he is aroused by the handsome new footman Jimmy and at some point walks into him, trying to kiss the sleeping Jimmy. As he is caught out by Alfred who walks in on this scene, he comes close to being sacked and even arrested by the police for indecent behaviour but is rescued by Lord Grantham who feels sorry for him and also needs his superb cricket skills for the upcoming match between the house and the village. Thomas excels in the match and a new job is created for him as he is made under-butler, much to Mr Bates´ consternation.
In the second Christmas special, Thomas, now known mostly as Mr Barrow, participates in the Tug-of-War match for the Downton side. When they win, Barrow follows Jimmy who, having won a large bet, then has too much to drink. Barrow finds Jimmy just as he is cornered by two members of the opposing team, and puts himself in the way so Jimmy can avoid being beaten and mugged. Barrow is badly beaten instead. While he is recuperating, Jimmy comes to speak with him, and Barrow accepts Jimmy can never give him what he wants, so they instead agree to be friends.
In Series 4, Barrow is as shocked as anyone when his old ally Miss O'Brien leaves Downton in the middle of the night. He comes to dislike the new nanny for the two young children of Downton, and refuses to pass on her instructions to other members of staff. He also comes to suspect that the new nanny may be mistreating the children in some way, and confides in Lady Grantham. This suspicion leads to Lady Grantham discovering the nanny's cruelty to Sybbie Branson, resulting in her immediate sacking. Barrow attempts to gain an ally in the form of Lady Grantham's new maid Edna, a maid fired from Downton following her attempt to seduce Tom Branson, by claiming that Edna's accidental damage to one of Lady Grantham's favorite garments was in fact due to Anna Bates. However, this alliance does not last very long, as Edna is fired after she successfully seduces Tom Branson but then fails to blackmail him into marrying her. She insults Barrow's arrogance and manner, though he responds in kind, and she leaves Downton once again.
Thomas was originally meant to be written out of the show at the end of the first series once he had had his "comeuppance". However, after James-Collier had filmed the first two episodes of the show the producers contacted his agent and asked if he'd liked to be optioned for the second and third series.
Sarah O'Brien (played by Siobhan Finneran), who is mainly known as Miss O'Brien by the other servants or just O'Brien by the family, was Lady Grantham's personal maid. She is especially bitter and resentful towards most of the other servants, perhaps due to her family circumstances; she had one favourite brother who had shell shock and later died during the Great War. Although scheming in nature and always looking to manipulate circumstances to hers and Thomas' own benefit, she has a conscience and softens up over the second series. She is one of the few servants who smoke on a regular basis. This is at a time when most women did not smoke and it was very rare for a woman to be seen smoking in public.
O'Brien and Thomas were the only servants who never did like Bates and the duo constantly try to find faults and uncover his past in an attempt to force Mr Carson to sack him. She tells Bates' vengeful estranged wife Vera about the family's dirty secrets in an attempt to force Bates out and Vera uses it to blackmail Bates. In the last episode of series one, O'Brien comes to believe that Cora is going to replace her. Out of spite, she leaves a bar of soap on the bathroom floor while Cora is taking a bath. When she gets out, she slips on the soap, causing her to miscarry. O'Brien is stroked with guilt and following the incident, she becomes even more loyal and devoted to Cora. When Thomas decided to buy extra food and supplies on the black market to sell to Downton's kitchen staff, she refuses to get involved in his business but sympathises with Thomas after he realises he has been swindled. After Lady Grantham is struck by a severe case of Spanish flu, O'Brien maintains a bedside vigil, attempting to atone for the miscarriage. Towards the end of the second series she becomes guilt-ridden when she finds out her meddling in Bates' private life has started a chain reaction which led to Vera threatening to expose the family secrets and bring the Crawley family down. O'Brien is one of several servants asked to testify at Bates' trial and is genuinely relieved when they learn that Bates had been reprieved. She also has a nephew, Alfred Nugent, who, later becomes a footman at Downton.
In the second Christmas special, she accompanies Lady Grantham to Scotland to visit Duneagle Castle. While there, she apparently comes to like Lady Flintshire, and manages to arrange to become her lady's maid. She leaves Downton at the very beginning of the fourth series in the middle of the night to take her new position, leaving only a letter to explain her actions.
Daisy Mason (née Robinson) (played by Sophie McShera) is the kitchen maid, later assistant cook, at Downton. A timid girl, one of eleven children, she is very naïve and can be easily tricked or led astray but has a very strong moral conscience.
In the first series, she is shown to have feelings for first footman Thomas, something that Mrs Patmore tries to discourage as she can see that Thomas is "not a ladies' man". After being caught stealing a bottle of wine, Thomas takes advantage of her feelings for him to persuade her to tell Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes that she saw Mr Bates take the wine. She later retracts the statement as she feels guilty and over time, her feelings for Thomas diminish and she notices that Downton's other footman, William, likes her. She is unsure how to handle the situation, especially when he enlists during the First World War and convinces himself that she is his sweetheart. She decides, with some encouragement from Mrs Patmore, to allow William his fantasy to boost his morale in battle and gives him a photo. After William is severely injured saving Matthew Crawley during the Battle of Amiens, Daisy agrees to marry him to give him some final happiness in his life but is widowed six hours later. She refuses to claim her widow's pension as she thinks it wrong to claim money for marrying a man that she liked but would have not married under normal circumstances. William's father reaches out to her and Daisy tries to tell him about her guilt but he refuses to listen. The older Mr Mason later explains to Daisy that William was his only surviving child and had realised that William married Daisy not just because he cared for her but so his father would have someone to keep company. He offers to take her under his wing as a surrogate daughter, which she accepts, though reluctant at the outset. Eventually she does grow close to him, and learns he wishes to name her his sole heir.
Daisy has a close relationship with Mrs Patmore, the cook, which is frequently more mother-daughter than two servants working together. At other times, Mrs Patmore becomes flustered and takes her frustration out on Daisy. She is also entrusted with teaching Lady Sybil how to cook, something which the pair enjoy. In 1919, she asks Mrs Patmore if, after many years in service, she can be promoted from kitchen maid to assistant cook and Mrs Patmore agrees to ask Mrs Hughes if the budget can support a promotion for Daisy. In the third series, she grows to like Alfred but resents Ivy the new kitchen maid who steals Alfred's attention.
Beryl Patmore (played by Lesley Nicol) is the cook at Downton. Mrs Patmore is in charge of the kitchen and kitchen staff. She takes great pride in her cooking and is a perfectionist in the kitchen. When the food is not met to her exacting standard she lets her frustration out on other maids, especially at Daisy. Throughout the first series she is often seen bossing around and shouting at Daisy while working but cares for her like a daughter and often offers her advice. Mrs Patmore tries to hide her deteriorating eyesight but Lord Grantham decides to send her to a London eye specialist when she accidentally puts salt on the pudding instead of sugar. This eyesight problem is declared to be cataracts, the surgery for which is new and daunting to Mrs Patmore, but the operation is successful and she regains the full use of her eyesight. During the Great War she learns that her nephew Archibald “Archie” Philpotts was shot for cowardice at the front. Hence, she becomes sensitive and upset when confronted with the topic of war.
William Mason (played by Thomas Howes) was the second footman at Downton. His father was a local farmer and William used to help with the horses. William had three brothers and a sister but all died at or shortly after birth, leaving him as the only child. His mother died of illness towards the end of the first series. Affable and good-natured, he was also a competent pianist (actor Thomas Howes is a pianist) and would entertain other servants during their free time. During the first series he had strong feelings for Daisy. In the second series, William wanted to enlist in the Army but was forbidden by his father as he was the only other surviving member of the family. He was further humiliated after being handed a white feather at a benefit concert held in the Crawley mansion. The Dowager Countess had meddled, informing the doctor that William had an embarrassing skin condition in order to keep him from being drafted. After being informed that this story was untrue by Isobel Crawley, the doctor corrected the report to the War Department, and William is drafted shortly thereafter. William asked Daisy if she would give him a photo that he could carry with him. Daisy was worried about being William’s sweetheart but Mrs Patmore urged her not to send him to the front with a broken heart, saying that if she refused, he would never return. Fearing for his safety, Lord Grantham had him assigned to Matthew Crawley's battalion to be his batman. During the Battle of Amiens, he threw himself in front of Matthew to shield him from a shell explosion and both men were seriously wounded. After being told he would not make it, William proposed to Daisy. Shortly after the wedding, which took place at Downton with William lying in bed, he died of his injuries.
Ethel Parks (played by Amy Nuttall) was the new maid introduced in the second series as Gwen's replacement. Outspoken, Ethel does not like being told what to do by anyone, which often sees her conflicting with Anna or Mrs Hughes. She says that she does not want to be in service for the rest of her life and often complains about her surroundings.
She begins an affair with Major Charles Bryant (played by Daniel Pirrie) while he is being treated at Downton when it is a convalescent home. Mrs Hughes dismisses her after discovering the two of them in bed together, but Ethel shortly returns having nowhere else to go when she finds out she is pregnant with his child. She names her son Charlie after his father, before moving away from Downton to start a new life.
In the Great War, Ethel has trouble supporting herself and her son and Mrs Hughes helps her, acting as her friend and bringing her food. Ethel tells Mrs Hughes that her neighbours think she is a war widow but admits that Major Bryant refuses to acknowledge that he is Charlie's father despite Ethel and Mrs Hughes's best efforts to get him to admit paternity. However, he is killed during the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and so when Cora learns that Mrs Hughes is supporting Ethel, she is persuaded to invite Major Bryant's parents to Downton Abbey. Ethel bursts into the meeting with her son, proclaiming that Charlie is their grandchild but Mr Bryant accuses Ethel of only being after their money and insists that his son was a good man. He also insists that Ethel cannot prove that Charlie is Major Bryant's child. Eventually, his wife persuades him to accept the child as his grandson, and Mr. Bryant offers to adopt Charlie. Ethel, however, would be denied any contact, learning that Charlie will be told, if he asks, that his father died during the war and his mother died of Spanish flu. They insist that they can give Charlie a far better future than Ethel ever could. Horrified by Major Bryant's refusal to acknowledge Charlie and his father's bullying, Ethel refuses the offer. She is replaced in her position by war widow, Jane.
In the third series, Ethel returns, having entered into a life of prostitution. Considering the future of Charlie, she gives him to Mr and Mrs Bryant. She is employed in Crawley house by Mrs Crawley, and learns to cook from Mrs. Patmore. She later leaves after getting a job near her son.
Joseph Molesley (played by Kevin Doyle) was the butler of Crawley House, in the village of Downton, and valet for Matthew Crawley. He is the son of Bill Molesley, the winner of the best bloom at the Downton Flower Show in 1913. With Matthew off at war and Mrs Crawley working with the Red Cross in France he and Mrs Bird, the family cook, find themselves in an empty house with no one to serve. A loyal servant, he volunteers his service at the earl's mansion. He has feelings for Anna, but it is unrequited and later she marries Mr Bates. After the war ends he takes over as butler when Carson falls ill of Spanish influenza, only to accidentally become drunk while tasting wine for dinner. He returns to Crawley House immediately upon Mr Carson's recovery, though he goes to the great house with Matthew Crawley to be his full-time valet after his marriage to Lady Mary. After Matthew dies in a car accident Molesley loses his job, moves in with his father and struggles to find work as a servant, forcing him to take up a job as a road construction worker.
When the possibility of Alfred leaving to pursue his dreams of becoming a chef, Mr Carson offers Molesley Alfred's place if he leaves. Molesley is not happy with the prospect, seeing it degrading to become a footman when he has been trained as a valet and butler. In the end, when Alfred does leave, Molesley does try to get the job but Carson refuses to give it to him, citing the fact that he does not want it and would only take it with great reluctance. But Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore protest and eventually Carson gives into them and takes Molesley on as a footman. Even so, the family still call him by his last name.
Gwen Dawson (played by Rose Leslie) was a housemaid at Downton. She is the daughter of a farm-hand. Ambitious, she decides that she no longer wants to work in service and saves up her money to buy a typewriter to take a correspondence course in typing and shorthand. When her typewriter is discovered by Miss O'Brien, she informs the whole staff and Gwen's plan to leave service to become a secretary is the cause of much discussion above and below stairs. Lady Sybil quickly befriends Gwen and tries to help her get a job as a secretary. In August 1914 they are successful and Gwen wins a position at a telephone firm. She does not return in the second series and is replaced by Ethel. In series four, the staff at Downton Abbey receive a letter from Gwen where she tells them she is getting married.
May Bird (played by Christine Lohr) was the cook for Isobel and Matthew Crawley, at Crawley House. Before 1912, she lived in Manchester with the Crawleys as their cook, but when they move she goes with them. In the first series, she is asked to stand-in for Mrs Patmore as cook at the Abbey, when she is away having an eye operation. When Mrs Patmore returns, they run the Garden Party for the hospital fund together. During the Great War she opened a soup kitchen at Crawley House, in secret, and was helped by Mrs Patmore and Daisy to run it from the money given by the government for the hospital. This all occurs when Matthew and his mother were away in France, in the trenches and field hospitals respectively. In the third series, Isobel wants to hire Ethel to work alongside Mrs Bird. When Mrs Bird refuses to work with a former prostitute, she is asked to leave.
Henry Lang (played by Cal MacAninch) was Lord Grantham's valet in the absence of Mr Bates. He is a recent war veteran and suffers from severe Combat Stress Reaction (CSR, or shell shock) that causes him to be very nervous and somewhat disconnected to his surroundings. On one notable occasion he wakes the staff in the middle of the night by horrifically screaming during a nightmare. O'Brien, whose brother suffered from shell shock and eventually died in combat, is uncharacteristically sympathetic and kind to him. He is later asked to leave Downton as he is unfit for service.
Jane Moorsum (played by Clare Calbraith) was a maid at Downton Abbey and Ethel's replacement. She is a widow as her husband died during the First World War. From the start it is clear that Lord Grantham finds Jane attractive and he takes a great interest in the education of her son, Freddie. At one point Grantham kisses Jane, stating that he wishes he could be with her and she admits the same. They are interrupted by an oblivious Mr Bates and come to their senses. Shortly after this, of her free will, Jane leaves service at Downton. Grantham insists to use his influence to get Freddie into Ripon Grammar School and to pay the fees in the future.
Evelyn Napier (played by Brendan Patricks) is the son and heir of Viscount Branksome and a suitor for Lady Mary, but later becomes engaged to one of the Semphill girls. This engagement is broken off and during the war he is injured.
He returns to Downton in 1922, while working on a government project studying estates and their progress. He is accompanied by his boss Charles Blake. While he is clearly still interested in Mary, Blake and she do not get off well.
The duke (played by Charlie Cox) was one of many potential suitors for Lady Mary, but he was seeking a wealthy wife to cure his financial problems. He is a past lover of Thomas, at the time first footman, but this affair ends in autumn 1912, after the duke visits Downton under the pretext of courting Mary, then tricks her into leading him into the servants' quarters, where he retrieves a packet of love letters to prevent Thomas from blackmailing him over the affair.
Patrick Gordon (played by Trevor White) is a major in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry who made a request to stay at the convalescent home at Downton Abbey because he claims he is related to the Crawley family. Major Gordon then claims to be Patrick Crawley, the first cousin once removed of the Earl who perished with his father James Crawley in the sinking of the Titanic, although neither of their bodies were recovered. Gordon says he was rescued from the freezing ocean by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe but developed amnesia and was sent to Montreal after being mistaken for a Canadian. He took his new surname from a bottle of gin. It is impossible to recognise Major Gordon as Patrick Crawley as his face was severely burned during the Battle of Passchendaele. Gordon does convince Lady Edith by relating experiences in Downton such as Mary and Edith's horrible governess Fräulein Kelder, but decides to leave, rather than commit to his claim. It is suggested by the Earl's solicitor, George Murray, that Major Gordon might actually be Peter Gordon, who worked with the real Patrick Crawley at the Foreign Office, which would explain how he knew some of the private details of the Earl's family.
Lavinia Catherine Swire (played by Zoe Boyle) was the fiancée of Matthew Crawley. She is the daughter of London solicitor Reggie Swire whom she has been very close to ever since her mother's death during her early childhood. In 1912, she brings private papers of her uncle Jonathan Swire, a Liberal minister, to Sir Richard Carlisle since Sir Richard was about to financially ruin her father. The papers Lavinia stole inadvertently helped create the Marconi scandal. She first met Matthew when he was back in England on leave and they later become engaged. When Matthew returns from the First World War injured she refuses to leave him despite being told that he will never walk again or father children. Lavinia dies at Downton of Spanish influenza after Matthew regains use of his legs and shortly before their wedding. Just before her death she confesses to Matthew that she had seen the kiss between him and Mary and tells him that her death is the best for all of them. Her father dies shortly after and Matthew honours his deathbed wish for his ashes to be placed in Lavinia's grave. Matthew is left a considerable sum by Mr Swire as Lavinia's fiance, and Matthew is initially consumed with guilt and refuses to accept it. Matthew eventually relents, and uses the money to save Downton Abbey from bankruptcy, following Lord Grantham's bad investments resulting in his wife's fortune being lost.
Richard Carlisle (played by Iain Glen) was the fiancé of Lady Mary Crawley. The brusque, domineering and nouveau riche Carlisle is a self-made, extremely wealthy newspaper magnate from Edinburgh whose paper, with the help of Lavinia Swire, helped cause the Marconi scandal. It is to Carlisle, as a man of means, that Lady Mary turns to when she considers that marrying Matthew is not an option. However, Violet and the family remain suspicious of him as he is "new money" and is described by Lord Grantham as "a hawker of newspaper scandal". Although his feelings for her are sincere, and he offers to buy a stately home near Downton where they can live together and start a family, he demands near-total control and threatens that if she leaves him he will expose her liaison with Ottoman attaché Kemal Pamuk, which he has used his powers to cover up. He also helps cover up the scandal that the murder trial of Downton valet Bates would cause. Eventually Mary breaks off the engagement to him after the pair argue with increased frequency, and afterLord Grantham discovers the truth from Lady Grantham and advises Mary not to be unhappy with someone she does not love. Carlisle leaves her uncertain whether he will try to ruin the family. Ultimately, his actions do not matter, as Matthew learns the truth and proposes to Mary anyway.
Richard Clarkson (played by David Robb) is the Crawley family doctor. During the second series, he becomes an army surgeon after the outbreak of the Great War, and as a major becomes the military commander at Downton when the estate becomes a convalescent hospital. When Matthew is injured, he thinks his spine may have been broken, but is proven wrong when Matthew walks again (he was just suffering from spinal shock, which didn't permanently disable his legs).
In series 3, when Lady Sybil goes into labor he sees signs that she is suffering from eclampsia and is in danger. However, because of his misdiagnosis of Matthew, Robert hires a well-known doctor who doesn't agree with Clarkson. At first Sybil seems fine after birth, but late in the night is found having fits and dies. Cora blames Robert for Sybil's death because he did not listen to Clarkson. Violet has Clarkson lie to mend their marriage. In journey to the highlands it is revealed that Dr. Clarkson has developed feelings for Isabelle Crawley. However after she explains her feelings on marriage he doesn't act.
Albert Travis (played by Michael Cochrane) is the Rector of St Mary's Downton whose living is under the patronage of the Earl of Grantham. During the Great War, after William is brought back to Downton mortally wounded, the Dowager Countess summons him to wed William and Daisy before William dies. Despite his questions, he does so. Later he arranges Lavinia Swire's funeral and then the wedding for Matthew and Mary, even though the Archbishop of York performs it. He also nearly weds Edith to Anthony Strallan before he jilts her at the altar (Travis and the Dowager discussed Strallan's first wife beforehand). Robert then asks him to dinner after Tom Branson expresses his wish to baptize his daughter Catholic like himself, a decision Robert opposes. Travis insults the Catholic faith and believes the Anglican Church is superior. But Edith, Mary, Matthew and Isobel defend Tom, and Mary settles the matter once and for all by revealing Sybil did not object to her child being a Catholic. Cora then silences Robert.
Kemal Pamuk (played by Theo James) was the son of one of the Turkish Sultan's ministers and a guest of Evelyn Napier when they visited Downton. In the course of a sexual encounter with Mary, Pamuk dies in her bed of a heart attack. The story was inspired by true events. In 1996, Julian Fellowes found a diary of his friend's great aunt. According to the diary, around 1890, a woman and a matron carried a diplomat's corpse into his guest bed, where a valet found him dead.
John Drake (played by Fergus O'Donnell) is a crofter on the estate of the Earl of Grantham. He is married and has several young children. In March 1913, he is diagnosed as suffering from dropsy of the heart and is certain to die. Isobel Crawley knows of a cure, but as a modern medical technique it is unfamiliar to Dr. Clarkson, who is reluctant to try it. Her determination to treat the man piques the ire of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, and preparing for a showdown, Violet shows up at Mr Drake's bedside only to witness the procedure and its unmitigated success.
During the First World War with the men away fighting, Mr Drake needs help on his farm. Lady Edith Crawley has recently learned to drive and she volunteers to drive their tractor. Over the next few weeks she continues to help while Drake has taken a liking to her. One evening Drake kisses her and Lady Edith is pleased. Mrs Drake secretly witnesses the kiss and soon after, the Drakes hire a man to replace Edith.
Anthony Strallan (played by Robert Bathurst) was a much older love interest for Edith. He has been widowed since the death of his wife Maud. His love of automobiles was a common interest that he shared with Edith and as well as bringing them close together inspired Edith to learn to drive. He was planning to propose to Edith before Mary tricked him into thinking Edith would reject him and he leaves without an explanation. In the Christmas special he is invited by Lord Grantham to the traditional Christmas shoot but repeatedly turns it down. Edith learns that he suffered a debilitating injury to his arm serving in the First World War, hence his refusal. She is convinced that he may take her back and they can get married, but he gently tells her that he is too old for her and that he doesn't want her to waste away her life caring for him.
In series 3, Edith and Anthony reconnect and are soon engaged. However, Anthony jilts Edith at the altar, devastating her.
He has a sister, Mrs Chetwood, who writes to Cora with the recipe for his favorite dessert, apple charlotte.
Michael Gregson (played by Charles Edwards) is a London editor for the society magazine The Sketch. After Lady Edith has a letter published in a newspaper proclaiming support for women's rights, Michael writes to her at least twice offering her a column in his magazine. Encouraged by her family (excepting her father, who thought he just wanted to take advantage of her name) she went to see him and accepted his offer.
Michael encouraged Edith to never be afraid to speak her mind and to write about whatever she wanted, even if it was not expected of a woman. He began flirting with her, later admitting to her he was attracted to her. But when she reveals she knows he is married, he explains that his wife, Lizzy, whom he loved very much, has been in an asylum for some years with no hope of recovery. Under British law, her status as a lunatic cannot be used as grounds for divorce. Edith stays on after he expresses his hope that she will, citing how much it means to meet her when they do and to read her column.
Michael follows Edith and her family to Scotland in 1921, where he meets her family. Cora instantly takes a liking to him, whereas Mary and Robert do not. Matthew defends Michael against his wife and goes stalking and fishing with him. But when learning of his status, Matthew instructs him to put an end to his relationship with Edith. Though he tries, he does not when he learns from Edith that she does love him.
Determined to find a way to marry Edith, he learns if he becomes a German citizen he can divorce Lizzy. Edith and he grow ever closer. He cares not for what others will think of him for changing his citizenship, only of Edith's love. She visits him many times in London then invites him to a party at Downton, where he begins to earn her father's respect. Before going to Munich to finalize his divorce he and Edith spend a night together. But then, he vanishes with no word for a long time, worrying Edith, especially when she realizes she is pregnant with his child.
Vera Bates (played by Maria Doyle Kennedy) was the estranged wife of John Bates. Having known each other since childhood, they marry young and had a very unhappy marriage. In between serving in the Anglo-Boer War and joining the staff at Downton Abbey, John Bates went to prison for a theft that Vera had committed.
Using her husband's name, she obtains a service post in the household of Marquess of Flintshire since the Marchioness of Flintshire is the Earl of Grantham's cousin. The Marchioness's lady's maid mistakenly tells Vera about Lady Mary's liaison with Kemal Pamuk. When Vera learns that her husband has a larger than expected inheritance after his mother's death, she arrives at Downton Abbey. She asks for large amounts of money, refusing a divorce so he cannot marry fellow servant Anna and blackmails him, threatening to expose Lady Mary's secret. She also wants her husband back since she has tried living on her own and does not like it. Bates returns to London with her to live in his mother's home but soon separates after learning that she has been unfaithful to him. Eventually he returns to his post as Robert's valet, and he and Anna rekindle their romance. O'Brien, always against Bates, writes to Vera to tell her where he is and about his and Anna's romantic relationship. Irate, she goes to Sir Richard Carlisle and sells him the story of Lady Mary, unaware that Sir Richard is engaged to Lady Mary and has no intention of publishing the story. Furious over of this, she tells the judge in her divorce case that Bates paid her off to consent to it. The judge voids the divorce decree, with the result that Vera and John are still legally married. Mr Bates goes to London to confront her and returns to Downton with a large scratch on his face, telling Anna that their meeting went terribly. The next day, Vera is found dead from the ingestation of rat poison. The police are convinced that Bates murdered her and he is convicted and sentenced to death, before the sentence is commuted to one of life in prison. While John is in prison, Anna is able to track down a neighbour of Vera's who saw her on the day of her death. She tells Anna that she remembers Vera had dried food under her nail; meaning that Vera made the pie herself knowing that her husband would be implicated for murder. Bates is then released from prison due to the neighbour's statement.
Mr Mason (played by Paul Copley) is the father of William. In 1913 his wife dies of a heart attack leaving him on his own on their farm. He becomes father-in-law to Daisy when his son marries her shortly before William's death. After William's death in 1918, Mr Mason sometimes calls at Downton to speak to Daisy, believing that she loved William as much as he did. Although Daisy finds this awkward at first, after a few years the pair realize that William knew that Daisy had, in effect, no parents and that his father would have no children left after his death. From then on they agree to support each other, in effect as father and daughter.
In 1920, he expresses his wish to name Daisy his sole heir, and asks her to come live at the farm so he may teach her how to run it. When Daisy visits him again in 1922, she is trying to avoid Alfred, who is saying his final goodbyes at the house. But Mr Mason insists to Daisy she has to say goodbye to him properly, and offers to help her find the right words to say.
Joe Burns (played by Bill Fellows) is a former suitor to Mrs Hughes. When Elsie turns his proposal down he later married Ivy (died 1912) and had one son Peter, who joined the army. He meets Mrs Hughes at a fair in Downton after the death of Ivy and asked her a second time to marry him, giving her a parting gift of a small doll. Later, however, he is turned down as Mrs Hughes does not wish to leave Downton, but the two part on good terms.