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Mary Crawley

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Mary Josephine Crawley
Downton-abbey-lady-mary 510x510-1-
Biographical information
Born 1891
Marital status Widow of Matthew Crawley
Residence Downton Abbey, Yorkshire, England
Title(s) Lady Mary
My lady
Her ladyship
My darling (by her mother and father)
Physical information
Gender Female
Height 5'8" (1,73 m)
Hair colour Dark brown/black
Eye colour Brown
Family information
Immediate Robert Crawley (father)
Cora Crawley (mother)
Edith Crawley (sister)
Sybil Branson (sister) †
Matthew Crawley (husband/fourth cousin), †
George Crawley (son)
Violet Crawley (paternal grandmother)
Paternal grandfather
Isidore Levinson (maternal grandfather) †
Martha Levinson (maternal grandmother)
Harold Levinson (maternal uncle)
Maternal great-aunt
Rosamund Painswick (paternal aunt)
Marmaduke Painswick (uncle) †
Isobel Crawley (mother-in-law)
Tom Branson (brother-in-law)
Sybbie Branson (niece/goddaughter)
Marigold Gregson (niece)
Roberta (paternal great-aunt)
Gordon (paternal great-uncle)
Susan MacClare (paternal first cousin-once-removed)
Hugh MacClare (paternal first cousin-once-removed-in-law)
Rose Aldridge (paternal second cousin)
Cousin Freddie (cousin; maternal or paternal)
Lord Merton (godfather)
Occupation Co-owner of the estate
Loyalty Matthew Crawley
Anna Bates
Charles Carson
Sybil Branson
Tom Branson
Sybbie Branson
George Crawley
Behind the scenes
Portrayed by Michelle Dockery
"You'll be my Mary always because mine is the true Mary."
—Matthew to Mary

Lady Mary Josephine Crawley (born 1891) is the eldest daughter of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. and his American heiress wife Cora Crawley (née Levinson), as well as the mother of the current heir of Grantham, George, whom she had with her late husband Matthew Crawley. Mary has two younger sisters, Lady Edith Crawley and Lady Sybil Branson, who later died in 1920 from complications following childbirth. A potential brother was miscarried in 1914. Through Sybil, she is the sister-in-law of Tom Branson and the aunt and godmother of Sybil "Sybbie" Branson. Although unaware of it as of December 25th, 1924, she has another niece named Marigold Gregson through Edith. She is also the granddaughter of the late earl of Grantham and Violet Crawley (through whom she is linked to the MacClare Family) and of Isidore and Martha Levinson.

Physical Appearance Edit

Mary is the epitome of elegance and grace. She is is slender and tall with thin wrists and long fingers. She is an extremely attractive lady and is sought after by many men through out the series, always appearing at her best. She has sweet-cola waves and dark eyes, accompanied by perfectly arched brows and black lashes.


Mary is shown to be cold, bitter, opaque and quite mean in the beginning but her romance with Mathew brings her kindness and vulnerability to light. She is a caring lady and takes Mathew's death to heart, remaining in mourning for more than six months after his death. Mary proves to be an extremely loyal employee to Anna and Mr Bates as well as to her family and friends too. Despite the constant rivalry between herself and her sister Edith, at the death of her other sister Sybil she and Edith share an embrace and kind words. Later on, after the tragic death of Matthew, she begins to return, in some ways, to her old self. Her relationship with her sister, Edith, deteriorates, yet again. However Mary does show herself to be very open-minded and progressive at times, befriending her brother-in-law Tom Branson, the family's former chauffeur, and supporting him in his decision to raise his daughter Catholic, showing she bears none of the anti-Catholic prejudices that were common in her time. She also is very supportive of her cousin Rose's decision to marry a Jewish man, Atticus Aldridge, in a time when, due to anti-semitism, many people might frown on such a match.



The news of the deaths of her two cousins, James and Patrick, is a shock to her because it disrupts the family's strategy for dealing with the entail. The entail requires that the family's estate, incorporating her mother's large marriage settlement, along with the title, to pass to male heirs only. 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 black mourning clothes.

Mary's parents and grandmother focus on finding suitors for Mary, including the Duke of Crowborough, Evelyn Napier, and Anthony Strallan. She herself is seduced by a visitor to the house, Napier's friend Ottoman attaché Kemal Pamuk, who suddenly dies in her bed. Her infuriated mother and head housemaid Anna help her carry his body out of her room and back to his in the bachelor's corridor in order to try to prevent a public scandal that would ruin her marriage prospects.

Mary's relationship with the new heir, her 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" and could "barely hold a knife properly". Over time, however, the pair grow closer and a romance develops. In 1914, Matthew asks Mary to marry him, but she is cautious and says she won't give him an answer until the end of the London Season in August. However her mother becomes pregnant, and if the baby is a boy, he will inherit the title instead of Matthew, so Mary refuses to give Matthew an answer, 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 but war breaks out and he joins the British Army.


While Matthew is away, Mary becomes engaged to Richard Carlisle, a wealthy 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 his new fiancée Lavinia Swire, and to move to a neighboring, stately home that Sir Richard plans to buy. After Lavinia's death, it becomes clear that Matthew and Mary continue to have strong feelings for one other. Her relationship with Sir Richard deteriorates and her father, 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 with Sir Richard and initially agrees to visit her mother's family in America to wait out the Pamuk scandal (as Carlisle threatens to, but does not, publish in retaliation). Soon after, Matthew proposes to her again, on a bended knee, and the pair become happily engaged.

The couple, after a brief moment of doubt the night before the wedding, happily marry in 1920 and take their honeymoon in France. The doubt came after Mary learned from her father he had lost so much money he was going to lose Downton, and that Matthew might be the heir to Reggie Swire's huge fortune. Mary felt if he inherited then Downton could be saved, but Matthew insisted he could not inherit it because he still blamed himself for Lavinia's death. When it came to light Lavinia wrote to her father telling him the whole story and that Reggie respected him still, Matthew refused to believe it, so Mary questioned the servants and learned Lavinia had indeed written to her father (Daisy Mason had posted it). Matthew then accepted it, investing in Downton and saving it.

After Sybil and her husband, former chauffeur Tom Branson, were exiled from Ireland, Sybil went into labor. Mary visited her beforehand, where Sybil mentioned again Tom's wish for the baby to be Catholic like himself and how she realized the baby's christening would have to take place at Downton now instead of Dublin. Mary insisted to Sybil she did not have to accept this, as it was her baby too. But Sybil told her she did not mind, that she did not object to Catholic traditions, and that she loved Tom and wanted this for him. Mary then promised to fight their corner. Like the rest of the family, Mary was delighted at the birth of Sybil's daughter, then utterly heartbroken when her beloved sister died soon after. She gave her a final kiss and said "Goodbye my darling."

Keeping her promise to Sybil, Mary supported Tom against her father to baptize her niece and goddaughter, Sybbie, Catholic. She attended Sybbie's christening with the rest of the family. She also begins to support Matthew's plans for modernizing Downton, which her father initially opposes. While she and Matthew are intent on having children, it is hinted they may be having reproductive issues. Mary and Matthew meet by coincidence at a reproductive health clinic run by Dr Ryder, where Mary reveals she underwent a small and successful operation in order to strengthen their chances of conceiving. Despite previous tension between them, the series ends with them happily reaffirming their love for each other.

In September 1921, an eight-month pregnant Mary travels to Duneagle Castle in Scotland with the family. Branson stayed behind because he was not invited, something that doesn't concern him. After the ball, Mary regrets dancing and tells Matthew that she's returning to Downton the next day. Matthew volunteers to accompany her, but Mary insists that he stay and enjoy the last few days of their trip.

The next day, when Mary steps off the train, she tells Anna to take her to the hospital and notify her husband that she has begun labour. The Crawley family leaves Scotland at once, and Matthew visits Mary at the hospital as soon as he can make it. Mary has given birth to a son and heir. Matthew then says he "feels like I swallowed fireworks" and tells Mary that he loves her more  with each passing day and that she'll be an excellent mother. Matthew then drives back to Downton to tell the family they can now visit his son. As Matthew is driving at what appears to be a fast pace, he doesn't see another automobile driving around the corner. The car hits him, and Matthew and his car are pushed off the road onto the bottom of a small slope. The other driver comes out to help, but sees a dead Matthew, pale and bleeding from his injuries. The episode ends on Mary holding her son, smiling, blissfully unaware that her husband and father of her child is dead.

Six months after the death of Matthew, Mary is still struggling to come to terms with her loss, and she is very cold towards everyone. She doesn't appear to have a close relationship with her son George, who she prefers to leave in the care of the nannies, calling him a "poor little orphan". She refuses to wear anything other than black when Anna suggests a lilac outfit and when walking down the stairs, she stops when she sees and remembers the place where she and Matthew once kissed. She also has a rather awkward conversation with her sister Edith on the stairs when Mary realises it was Valentines Day and asks Edith what her plans are for the day, saying she hopes she has a good time. Although many of her family members, including the also widowed Tom Branson and Mr Carson, attempt to help Mary move on, she ignores and dismisses them. Tom feels that Mary needs to find something to fight for and that this should be, as George's guardian, the protection of his inheritance as the next heir to Downton Abbey estate. Her father, Lord Grantham refuses Tom's suggestion, claiming many times that they should not bother her with such troubles. He thinks that since Matthew appears to have left no will and assumes he is to take care of George's share in the estate, then Mary doesn't really have any say.

On one occasion, she gets a little angry with Mr Carson because she didn't feel it was his place to tell her what she should do. It goes from bad to worst at the dinner table that night, when her mother, grandmother and Tom try to encourage Mary to be more involved in the running of Downton to which her father tries to again, protect Mary. She gets upset and upon breaking into tears, tells everyone to leave her alone. She leaves the dinner table and returns to her room. It isn't until her grandmother, Violet Crawley, has a talk with Mary that she starts to come to terms with Matthew's death. She tells her grandmother she feels she has become the cold person she used to be and that perhaps she was only kind in Matthew's imagination. She tells her grandmother she doesn't understand why she has come to talk to her, to which she replies that it because she is her grandmother and she loves her. She is told she must choose between life or death, to which Mary begins to understand that she must choose life. As she begins her attempt to move on, she pays a visit to Mr Carson to apologise for the way she spoke to him the day before. She breaks down in front of him, telling him she doesn't know how to move on. He comforts her, telling her she is a strong woman and she will find a way. 

Later on, Mary decides to wear a lilac dress rather than a black dress to attend a luncheon to discuss the running of Downton as she finally begins to move on. Shortly after, a box containing Matthew's last things from his office is sent to Downton. Mr Carson decided the box should best be sent to Robert first, in case it upsets Mary. Robert begins to look into the box, and finds within a book a letter that Matthew had wrote shortly before the trip to Scotland. The letter states what he would had wanted in the event of his death, which Matthew had thought was the best thing to do now that Mary was pregnant. Robert hesitates to give it Mary first but he is persuaded otherwise when Violet says it is wrong to keep it from her. Matthew says in the letter he wishes Mary to be his sole heiress. He also states that although it is not properly documented, he intended after this trip for his wishes to be properly written up. However, Robert was still determined that it was not a will and that he will have Murray look at the document. It is later determined that the letter is a will of sorts, and will stand as one. There were two witnesses to Matthew writing the will and it clearly states that Matthew was sure of Mary being his heiress.

It is clear at first that Robert was not too happy at the thought of sharing Downton with Mary. He kept telling Mary that it couldn't have been a proper will. At dinner, she innocently tells everyone she would like her opinions to be heard in the event that the letter is seen as a will. Robert finds himself slightly annoyed at the prospect and hastily informs Mary of the many things she will have to have an opinion on, which makes Mary remark he must have some sort of point and Cora remark that he trying to say a woman's place is in the home.

In light of this, Violet invites Mary and Tom to her home to have a word wih them. She tells them she would like Tom to be Mary's "instructor" and help her to understand how Downton is run, such as the crops on the farms. Tom and Mary happily accept this prospect. Tom later takes Mary out to discuss how Downton is run. They talk about the death duties and how much tax there will be to pay. Tom tells Mary that her father intends to sell part of the land to pay it off in one lump. They both determine that they disagree with Robert's idea. When Robert finally accepts Matthew's letter is a will, Mary tells Robert of her disagreement with his plan to sell part of the land, to his dismay.

Mary and Tom work together more on the estate, even working on a new venture into pig farming. She meets an old childhood friend, Tony Foyle, now Lord Gillingham, who pursues her. She turns him down as she has not yet moved on from Matthew. But he gets a kiss out of her, and later when she learns of his engagement she secretly feels regret.

She then reunites with her old suitor Evelyn Napier, but does not get along well with his boss Charles Blake. She believes he cares not for the landowners. But after some new pigs arrived in poor condition she and Blake both willingly get dirty in order to help them, after which she and Blake start to respect each other more (he originally believed she was unwilling to work for Downton), and he develops feelings for her himself.

Lord Gillingham returns, having broken off his engagement as he is still determined to win her over. Her family takes note of her numerous suitors.

Mary is the first to know Rose has entered a relationship with Jack Ross. After Rose reveals her plans to marry him, she goes to London to speak to Ross himself. He impresses her with his honesty and love for Rose, but also in his decision to spare Rose pain from society by calling it off. She later speaks to Rose at the bazaar. She is also the second person to learn from Mrs Hughes about what happened to Anna. Anna then reveals to Mary who the culprit was, and Mary feels she has to do something. So she meets with Lord Gillingham and insists that he fire his valet Green without telling him why. He later informs her of Green's death at the bazaar.

Mary receives a visit from Lord Gillingham who proposes they become lovers. She agrees to his offer and they arrange for a secret rendezvous in Liverpool. Mary tells her family she will instead be spending time with a friend, Annabelle Portsmouth. She tells Blake she is sorry if she has hurt him, but he insists he is happy for her. He asks only that she be certain she is making the right choice because he feels that she is far smarter than Lord Gillingham.

Anna is very nervous about Mary's decision, especially when Mary has her go to a pharmacy to purchase items for her to prevent pregnancy. After enjoying themselves, they are spotted by Spratt, Violet's butler. He informs Violet who immediately comes up with an excuse to explain their being in Liverpool. However Violet has Mary come to her house and confront her with what she knows. Mary insists she is being modern and that there is nothing wrong with it, but Violet insists that it is and that Mary has been seduced.

Mary immediately claims that they want to set a date but nothing has been settled. Violet urges her to make a decision. But Mary begins to regret what she has done and later confides to Tom she feels she has made the wrong choice, because she now thinks she and Gillingham have very little in common.

After Tom begins to voice his political opinions again, Mary remarks that she feels Tom is changing back into who he is, which she admits will be a bad thing for the family but not for Tom. She later tells Tom though she does not approve of his friendship with Sarah Bunting, who had helped begin to revive his political views, and that she still does not want him to leave Downton.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Mary Crawley

  • Mary and Edith's relationship

    46 messages
    • The fact Edith never gives up her search for happiness shows just how strong she is.
    • wrote:The fact Edith never gives up her search for happiness shows just how strong she is. And like Tom she grew closer to ...
  • Mary and Tom

    10 messages
    • Dockery and Leech both confirmed long ago that their characters' relationship is that of brother and sister - Mary and Tom are not going to ...
    • wrote:was it not still illegal to marry your sister/brother in law 1920s? That I cannot say, but certainly historically there h...

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