| Phyllis Baxter |
|Residence|| Downton Abbey, Downton, Yorkshire, England|
|Height||5'7" (1,70 m)|
|Occupation||Lady's Maid to Lady Grantham|
|Loyalty|| Thomas Barrow|
|Behind the scenes|
|Portrayed by||Raquel Cassidy|
Baxter has a history with Thomas Barrow, due to her being a friend of Thomas' sister. Thomas' father was kind to Baxter as well.
She also thinks Molesley lucky that he grew up in a village where everyone knows and respects him, suggesting that she may not have experienced those things herself.
She is immediately liked by the downstairs staff, as they think her to be kind and gentle, and because Baxter was in possession of a sewing machine, which was new to the Downton staff. Lady Grantham is also pleased with her, and tells Lord Grantham that Baxter is coming along splendidly.
The head cook Beryl Patmore is first suspicious of Baxter due to her machine, but when the machine is used to repair an apron just in time for when Lady Grantham would be coming downstairs, Baxter earns Mrs. Patmore's trust.
Thomas manipulates Baxter using a secret from her past, and forces Baxter to be his spy. She appears uncomfortable spying, but reluctantly spies for Thomas anyway.
As Thomas leaves for America to be the temporary valet to Lord Grantham, Thomas forces Baxter to gather knowledge as to why Bates, the usual valet to Lord Grantham, isn't traveling to America. The reason is, but only a few people know the full truth, is that the valet to Lord Gillingham, Alex Green, raped Bates' wife Anna, and Bates stayed in England so that he could support Anna.
When Green returned to Downton during Lord Gillingham's trip to Inverness, Baxter became suspicious when Anna paused when she saw Green in the room. When asked what he did during the night that he raped Anna, Green says that he came downstairs for some peace and quiet. It is this moment when Bates figures out that it was Green that raped Anna. Baxter glances at Anna and Bates, and she sees Bates staring at Green with complete hatred in his eyes.
Baxter bonds with footman Joseph Molesley, and when Thomas returns from America and demands that Baxter update him on the house's recent events, Molesley defends her against him, saying that "we'll have no bullying here." She also surprises him by saying he was lucky to live in a village where people know and respect him, suggesting she did not have that experience.
When Lord Gillingham brings news of Green's death to Lady Mary Crawley, the latter asks Charles Blake indirectly whether to investigate in Green's murder. During this exchange, Baxter is looking at both Mary and Charles.
Thomas still has hold over her in 1923, but Molesley approaches her at Grantham House while the Prince of Wales is dancing upstairs with Lady Rose MacClare. He insists to her that he doesn't know what's in her past and doesn't wish to, but she cannot let Thomas bully her or pull her into his schemes. She feels that is easier said than done, but he insists that it is sometimes better to take a risk than do the wrong thing. She becomes encouraged not to be afraid of her past and what it includes, telling Molesley, when they and the other servants are at the seaside, that his strength has made her strong - much to his amazement.
Baxter's secret has been revealed: she stole jewelry from her former mistress, Mrs. Benton, which included two diamond bracelets, a diamond necklace with a ruby clasp and four rings, and pretended that a burglary had taken place. Her penance for this crime was serving three years in prison. Thomas got her this job after her prison sentence, and keeps tabs on her and has threatened to tell Lady Grantham (Cora) her secret. With some urging from Molesley, who has not yet known about Baxter's past, Baxter tells Cora about her past before Thomas does.
Cora is confused but shocked that she employed a jewel thief to look after her jewels and states that it does not make any sense. Cora does not know whether to let Baxter stay or fire her as she still feels that there is more to Baxter's story than she has shared. Even when Molesley is told about Baxter's past, he feels that she must have had a specific reason for her jewelry theft, like if someone she cared about was in trouble or something.
Both Molesley and Cora are torn between their fondness for Baxter and their own moral codes. She subsequently tells Cora that she was forced to steal her former mistress's jewelry because a footman in the house named Peter Coyle made her do it. She explains she let him make her evil like himself. He asked her to steal the jewels and meet him afterwards, but he did not - he had fled and she was left to take the blame. With this explanation, Cora lets Baxter stay. Baxter also asked Lady Grantham not to bring up the subject again.
|Appearances and Mentions|
|Series 4||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5|
|Series 5||Episode 1|
- She is the third of Cora's maids who has some kind of relationship with Thomas.
- She likes milk but no sugar in her coffee.