| Robert Crawley |
Earl of Grantham
|Marital status||Married to Cora Crawley née Levinson, Countess of Grantham|
|Title(s)|| Earl of Grantham |
Viscount Downton (before 1890)
|Military career|| Lord Lieutenant |
Colonel of the North Riding Volunteers
|Hair colour||Black (greying)|
|Family|| Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (mother) |
Previous Earl of Grantham (father) †
|Behind the scenes|
|Portrayed by||Hugh Bonneville|
Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, also known as Lord Grantham, is the patriarch of Downton Abbey, the son of the previous Earl of Grantham and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Lady Rosamund Painswick nee Crawley is his sister, the late Marmaduke Painswick his brother-in-law. He is the husband of Cora Crawley née Levinson, Countess of Grantham, and therefore the son-in-law of the late Isidore and Martha Levinson. He and his wife have three daughters: Lady Mary Crawley, Lady Edith Crawley, and the late Lady Sybil Branson née Crawley. His son-in-laws are Tom Branson and the late Matthew Crawley. Sybil Branson and George Crawley are his grandchildren.
Early Life Edit
Robert was born in Downton Abbey. His father was the previous Earl of Grantham and Violet, Dowager Countess, is his mother. Robert's sister Rosamund was born a year later. Robert and Rosamund also had at least two aunts and a cousin. Although the parents loved their children very much, his mother Violet tells Isobel Crawley that when young the children spent most of their time with a nanny. She spent about an hour with them, "every" day, after tea.
The Earl had very little money for an aristocrat, and Downton Abbey was a drain on what they had. Robert's education was very privileged and he was educated by a tutor from 7-13 and when he reached 13 he attended Eton College and then at 18 he attended Christchurch, Oxford and read Philosophy.
Marriage to Cora Levinson Edit
Robert was raised by his father so that Robert could take care of the estate after his father's death. Because of their financial situation, his father knew that Robert, as the future Earl, would have to marry a wealthy heiress who would bring a large dowry in order to ensure the survival of the estate. In 1889 Robert married an American heiress, Cora Levinson. Cora is the daughter of Isidore and Martha Levinson, and came across to England with Martha in 1888 when she was 20 years old. Isidore was an American millionaire, and when Cora married Robert, Robert's father forced her to sign a legal entailment which legally combined the estate with Cora's fortune. When Robert dies, whoever inherited the title would get all the money that Cora brought into the marriage. In 1912 Robert admitted to his mother that he was ashamed of his motives for pursuing Cora. After about a year of marriage Robert did fall in love with Cora. They had three daughters: Mary, Edith, and Sybil. As they had no sons, Robert's heir was his cousin James. The Earl served in the Second Boer War from 1899–1902 where John Bates, later to be his valet, was his batman.
Series One Edit
When James Crawley and his only son Patrick died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic, his heir became his third cousin once removed, Matthew Crawley, a young upper middle-class solicitor from Manchester. Robert is immensely proud of Downton as the place he grew up and takes his responsibility for the estate very seriously. He does regret that the money is entailed, but would not do things differently. As he sees it, the estate needs the money if it is to survive and it is the duty of all who inherit it, to ensure Downton survives, even if the one inheriting it is not of his blood. He does wish that a woman could inherit. He decides not to break the entailment, because though Mary might get the money, she could not get Downton Abbey and the estate would wither and die. In 1912, he said to his mother that he 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 not shown.
Matthew arrives with his mother Isobel, and Robert tries to impress on him the importance of their guardianship of the people of the area and the traditions of the past. He is pleased when it appears that Mary will marry Matthew, so that the land and fortune will remain with his bloodline. Suddenly, Cora is found to be pregnant, and the long hoped for male heir may finally be coming. Unfortunately, Cora suffers a miscarriage, and she and Robert are emotionally crushed. Mary had delayed answering Matthew's proposal, because of the baby, and Matthew withdraws his proposal.
Season Two Edit
During the First World War Robert is given a commission, but it is honorary and he has no duties, while Cora has turned Downton into a convalescence hospital for soldiers. When William Mason is called up to fight, Robert does his best to keep him out of danger by getting him appointed as Matthew's batman
Left with nothing to do and with Cora emotionally distant and busy running the hospital, he begins to find himself attracted to new maid Jane Moorsum, a war widow with a young son. However, they realize that it is wrong and decide not to have an affair. Jane leaves Downton, and Robert arranges for her son Freddie, a clever child, to go to Ripon Grammar School. He also gives Jane the name and address of his man of business, so that he can remain in Freddie's life, be informed about how he is doing, and further help him later on.
John Bates has divorced his estranged wife, but is then charged with her murder. Robert has his lawyer defend Bates and even testifies in his defence. This backfires when Robert has to admit on the stand that Bates wished she was dead.
Mary has become engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle who doesn't treat her very well. Cora tells him about the hold Sir Richard has on her, due to the scandal of Kemal Pamuk, the Turkish attache who died in her bed. Mary is told by her father that he forgives her indiscretion, and tells her that she is "not the only Crawley to have made a mistake".
When his daughter Sybil elopes with the chauffeur, Tom Branson, Lord Robert offers him money to go. However, as neither of them will change their mind, he must grudgingly accept the marriage.
John Bates can no longer function as his valet Henry Lang, a shell-shocked veteran is hired as his valet. Lang proves to be incapable of carrying out his duties and must regretfully be let go.
Series Three Edit
Robert learns from his lawyer George Murray that the investment he made in the Canadian Railway has become worthless, he had lost his own and most of Cora's money, enough to lose Downton. He cannot believe it, and tries to justify his actions.
When his youngest daughter entered labour, Robert and Sir Philip Tapsell ignored Dr. Clarkson's advice that Sybil was showing signs of having eclampsia, which risked Sybil's life. They disagreed because they believed it would be safer if Sybil and her baby were at Downton not at a public hospital, which deeply concerned Tom, Cora and rest of the family. Sybil died from eclampsia after giving birth to a daughter. At first Cora blamed Robert for Sybil's death, he himself admitting there was truth in her blame.
His son-in-law Tom Branson believed that his daughter, whom he wished to name Sybil, should be baptised Catholic like himself. But Robert disagreed with him, believing that his granddaughter should be baptised a part of the Church of England. He thought the idea of Tom naming his daughter after her mother was "ghoulish" and he said the only way she could move up in life was through her mother's high born blood, indicating he was still upset over his daughter marrying Tom. He was also eager to have Tom leave following Sybil's death, despite Edith's insistence he stay at least until he got back on his feet.
Mary and the rest of the family however supported Tom over baby Sybil's christening. Robert still protested even after Mary revealed Sybil told her before she died she would be happy for her child to be Catholic, but later relented when Mary reminded him they all needed to remember Sybil loved Tom and wanted him to be happy. He was still however opposed to the decision, but when Tom asked him to come to the Christening on account that Sybil loved him and would want him there, he did. Violet also was eager to have Tom stay so Sybbie could grow up in a better environment than with Tom's brother in a garage, and so encouraged his succession to the position of manager of the estate.
Fortunately, Matthew had been named heir to the estate of Reggie Swire. Robert tells Matthew that he will let him invest in Downton and they will be co-owners of the house and estate. Matthew does not wish to interfere with Robert's running of the estate. However, after going through the books, he comes to see that the estate has never been managed as a self sustaining business, when he points this out, Robert is resistant to change the way things are done, and after Cora sides with her sons-in-law, Robert feels devastated, that there is no place for him in this new vision.
Tom later tells him that with their individual skills, investment in improvements, and Robert's sense for tradition and caring for the people of the estate, the estate should be able to be made profitable. Robert did seem to respect Tom more after this speech, saying he was "very eloquent" and a good spokesperson for Matthew's vision. He insisted Tom help out with the cricket team, even though Tom had never played before.
Thomas Barrow is discovered by Alfred Nugent kissing a sleeping Jimmy Kent. Thomas, formerly Robert's valet, is threatened with dismissal and possible imprisonment for assault. When Robert learns of it, he not only decides that Thomas will stay, but furthermore promotes him, as he thinks the matter not important enough to ruin Thomas' life (he also did not want to lose the house's best cricket player with a large match coming up). When Alfred subsequently reports Thomas to the police, Robert persuades Alfred to tell them that he was mistaken, being drunk at the time.
Robert continues to clash over the running of the estate, especially when Mary comes out of mourning and begins to take on a larger interest and role in managing the estate. However his sense of tradition earns hers and Tom's respect when he places his faith in a local tenant farmer, Tim Drewe, who wants to stay on despite his father's huge debts.
He begrudgingly faces progress and change such as when having to sit next to Dame Nellie Melba during dinner when she visits. He avoids Edith's love interest Michael Gregson, convinced Edith could do "a great deal better." But after Gregson gets money back for Lord Grantham that he was swindled out of by Terence Sampson (which he keeps a secret) Robert begins to think better of him, calling him a "decent cove" who behaved in a gentlemanly way, even if he still is not sure Gregson is what he wants for his daughter.
When his brother-in-law gets involved in the Teapot Dome Scandal, Robert is upset that both Harold and his mother insist he come over for support. He cannot understand why, but he does go, and takes Thomas Barrow with him instead of John Bates after Mary convinces him Bates needs to stay and be with his wife. Robert returns in time for the bazaar, and informs his mother than both their in-laws will be coming over later for Rose's debunate ball.
Although he loves his daughters very much, Robert has always longed for a son, and he almost had one until Cora's shock fourth pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
Robert does not shun 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 the middle class Matthew and Isobel arrive at Downton, the family are initially wary of them and reluctant to welcome them into the family, simply because they are middle class and not aristocrats. Robert is the only one who does welcome them regardless of their class, and he becomes good friends with Isobel and a surrogate father to Matthew. He is very enthusiastic about the idea of Mary marrying Matthew, 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 with 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 WWI, although he is suffering from shellshock. When William Mason, a footman, is given a white feather of cowardice by some women from the village during WWI, 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 footman 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.
Robert does realize that the time he lives in is changing. He tells Martha Levinson rather despondently that sometimes he feels like a wild creature whose habitat is slowly being destroyed. Even so, he clings onto tradition tightly, such as supporting Tim Drewe in maintaining his family farm when his father's rent hasn't ben paid, noting how they have been there for many generations.
He does however have a stubborn streak, as shown in his reluctance to try to move on following the war, to not trust investments when his own produced devastating results, and his opposition to his grandaughter being baptized Catholic (even after Mary reveals Sybil had no objection to Tom's wish). He barely acknowledges Michael Gregson when he begins courting Edith, utterly convinced Gregson is not good enough for her despite knowing him. This belief stems from his opposition to Edith accepting Gregson's offer of a column in his magazine.
Robert's stubborness also shows in his refusal to accept money from others when he has lost it. This has shown when Matthew decided to accept Reggie Swire's inheritance and give it to Robert to save Downton, and again after Michael Gregson regained money Robert, Lord Gillingham, and John Bullock lost while gambling with Terence Sampson. He insists in both cases he cannot accept their offers, acting out of humility and pride.
He is deeply hurt when the rest of his family support Tom and Matthew's plan to buy farmland and create an income for Downton, rather than invest money. He does however see sense eventually, relenting in all these matters. After learning Hugh MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire was to lose Duneagle Castle due to his own financial troubles, he realized how lucky he was and was glad for Matthew's plans.
Nevertheless, Robert does not like sharing power. When a letter written by Matthew reveals his intention for Mary to inherit everything of his, including his share of the estate, he tries to fight it because, as his mother scolds him for it, he would rather the letter not stand as a will. He tries to hide and shelter Mary during her mourning rather than bring her back to the world, and is upset when the letter does stand as a will and Mary immediately begins taking a role in managing Downton and conflicting with his own ideas.
Robert Crawley is deeply in love, and close, with his American wife Cora Crawley. He is also close with his mother, Violet Crawley and his sister, Lady Rosamund. Robert loves his three daughters deeply and only wants what is best for them.
- "Carson, we all have chapters we would prefer to keep unpublished."
- —to Charles Carson.
- "I have given my life to Downton, I was born here and I hope to die here. It is my third parent and fourth child. Do I care about it? Yes, I do care!"
- —to Violet.
- "Alright, let's give it a go and see what the future brings."
- —to Matthew, accepting his plans for Downton's future.
"If we don't respect the past, we'll find it harder to build a future." - in regards to foreclosing the lease of a tenant whose family has been at Downton for ages.
|Appearances and Mentions|
|Series 1||Episode 1|
|Series 2||Episode 1|
|Series 3||Episode 1|
- In The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis, Julian Fellowes relates that Robert Crawley was based on the personality of his late father. He describes his father as, "a deeply moral man, possibly cleverer than Robert, who was always determined to do right, but without ever questioning the structure of his own social universe".
- ↑ Sybil's grave, obtained from here (slide 3/11) - indicates she is the daughter of the 5th Earl of Grantham - as the 5th Earl is her father, that would make Robert the 5th Earl. Since the text of the grave stone has not appeared in any episode, it cannot be taken as canonical, and therefore which Earl he is remains unconfirmed.
- ↑ Susan is Robert and Rosamund's cousin and her mother, Violet's sister, is their aunt; Edith mentions in Season 2 that "Papa discovered an aunt in the 1860s who married a Gordon", so they have another aunt too. We know this aunt cannot be Susan's mother, as Robert would not have had to "discover" her, as he would have known of her existence, even if she died in childbirth, by Susan's existence.