| Tom Branson |
|Born|| Between May 1889 and May 1890|
Bray, County Wicklow
|Marital status||Widower of Lady Sybil Branson|
|Residence|| Downton Abbey, Downton, Yorkshire, England|
Dublin, Ireland (formerly)
Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland (formerly)
|Family|| Mrs Branson|
Mr Branson (father)
Kieran Branson (brother)
Sybil Branson (wife) †
|Occupation|| Chauffeur (formerly) |
|Loyalty|| Sybil Branson|
|Behind the scenes|
|Portrayed by||Allen Leech|
Tom is the widower of Lady Sybil, the son-in-law of Robert and Cora Crawley, and brother-in-law of Lady Mary, Lady Edith and the late Matthew Crawley. Sybil "Sybbie" Branson is his daughter and only child. He has at least one sibling, Kieran.
Early history Edit
Little is known about Branson's early life, except that he was born in either 1889 or 1890 and grew up in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, with his parents and brother. He mentions cousins on more than one occasion. Tom appears to be well-read and loves reading. In May 1913, at the age of 23, he moved to Yorkshire in order to work at Downton as the chauffeur, replacing Taylor, who left to open a tea shop. He tells Robert Crawley that he will miss Ireland but not his previous job.
Tom Branson arrives at Downton and immediately becomes curious about Lord Grantham’s youngest daughter, Lady Sybil, when he overhears her mother, Lady Grantham, talking about her needing a new dress and implying that she has an interest in rights for women. Branson is very political, and once he discovered that Sybil is too, he sets out to increase her interest.
By May 1914, Sybil seems to have become more involved with politics. Since there are no politically enthusiastic members of her family with whom she could talk openly, she turns to Branson. Branson tells her it is not just women's rights and Irish freedom, but chiefly the gap between the aristocracy and the poor he would want to change if he did go into politics. Knowing Lord Grantham is a member of this "oppressive class" and not wanting to offend her, he hastily makes amends by saying her father is a good man and a decent employer.
It is November 1916 and Branson is still at Downton and his love for Sybil is again confirmed when he attentively watches her baking with Mrs Patmore and Daisy Mason. Sybil is to become a nurse, but before that she want to learn some basic skills, like cooking. It is things like this that Branson has always admired as it shows her spirit and determination.Branson decides he has one chance, before she leaves to train as a nurse, to tell her how he feels. He asks her to bet on him, determined that he will make something of himself. He knows that she is too far above him, but believes that the world is changing as a result of the war and if her family did disown her, they would come around, but until then he would devote every waking minute to her happiness.
Sybil hesitates and replies that she is flattered, knowing that this is not the answer he was hoping for, Branson tells her that 'flattered' is a word posh people use when they are about to say 'no'. Laughing, she says that that sounds more like something he would say. Lord Grantham would certainly fire Branson had he known about this inappropriate conversation, but Sybil promises not to say anything to her family. Although Branson is visibly discouraged by this rejection, he is touched that she would not reveal his admission of feelings for her to her family, granting it would be hard for her to forget about being a nurse and her family even if she reciprocated his feelings.
A few months later, Branson has been called up by the war office, Sybil rushes to see him, not wanting him to go, but, being Irish, he does not intend to fight for the British Army, instead he plans on being a conscientious objector. She tells him that he will go to prison if he publicly speaks out against the war, but he doesn't care if he does have a record for the rest of his life, saying that at least he will have a life.
When Branson finds out he has been rejected by the army because of a heart murmur, Sybil is initially worried for him, but he says it is only dangerous if you want to humiliate the British Army. She is glad that he isn't going to be killed or to go to prison, but wonders why he has to be angry all the time, saying that she knows Britain wasn't at it's best in Ireland during the Easter Rising in 1916. This is the first time Branson has been seen to be moved negatively by something Sybil has said. He tells her that during the Easter Rising one of his cousins was walking up North King Street in Dublin and an English officer shot him dead on the assumption that he was "probably a rebel". She says she didn't know and he drives away upset.Branson thinks of another way to get back at the army by offering to be a footman and serve at a dinner party at which an important army general is a guest. Branson writes Sybil a note asking her to forgive him for what he did to the general and puts it in some of her washing to be taken to her room. Anna finds this note and runs to tell Mrs Hughes, believing Branson to be about to assassinate the general. Together they find Mr Carson and stop Branson before he had chance to act. Branson contemplates making a scene anyway, but looks over his shoulder to Sybil and decides to leave quietly with Mr Carson. As it turns out, Branson was not planning to kill the general, but to pour a mixture of oil, ink, cow pat, and sour milk over his head. In the kitchen, the staff decide not to get the police involved, as news of the attempt would bring similar embarrassing attention to the British military as if it had been successful. Carson lets Branson off, with the promise that he'll not do anything like it again. It is 1918 and Sybil is talking to Branson outside the garage, questioning why he promised Mr Carson not to take part in any more political protests when he wouldn't promise her. She doesn't understand how he can be contented with tinkering with a car all day. He tells her that she is the reason he won't leave Downton and states that she feels the same way towards him but is too scared to admit it, but Sybil tells him to not be ridiculous. Unaware of Mary Crawley's presence he continues to try and convince her to run away with him. Luckily they are out of earshot, but Mary has been made aware by Violet Crawley that Sybil may have a inappropriate beau she has had to keep secret. Seeing the two of them conversing alerts Mary to what is going on.
Sybil finds Branson in order to tell him that Mary knows about them. At first he is worried that he will be made to leave without a reference, but is cheered by Sybil's address of the two of them as 'us'. Branson tries to convince her that she loves him, otherwise she would have told her family about his feelings and intentions years ago. In turn, Sybil challenges his assumption that she must love him just because she has not given him away. This meeting turns into an argument, Sybil has thought about the the consequences of running away with him, asking if she will be accepted by his people and how she could ever leave her family, she hopes that she is a free spirit like he says, but he is asking her to leave behind everything she has ever known. A moment of despair results in Branson belittling Sybil's work serving tea to a bunch of randy officers. Branson finally tells her that nothing else matters but the two of them: "Look, it comes down to whether or not you love me. That’s all. That’s it. The rest is detail."The news has been received, the Tsar and his family have all been shot dead, Branson is saddened by it, admitting that he didn't think they would. He reassures himself by saying that maybe the future needs terrible sacrifices. This leads to a conversation about Sybil's politics, during the war the suffragette movement was put on hold out of respect for England and for the men off fighting. Much to Sybil's annoyance Branson suggests that she has given up on her cause and should have stuck it out. Sybil tries to leave but he stops her by the waist, she stops abruptly, resulting in a moment of stunned silence. Knowing that this was not the done thing, he removes his hand hastily away. Not meaning their politics anymore he says her future is up to her. She hesitates for a moment, looking between his eyes and lips and leaning in as if to kiss him, but abruptly pulls back and turns to leave. Branson is left standing alone, watching her go.
It is 1919 and Sybil is bored. Bored of her life now that she is back in the same old routine that she was stuck in before the war. The war has changed her irrevocably and she knows it, she cannot and will not return to her mundane existence of waiting around for a suitable bachelor, whom her parents approve of, to stumble her way. But she still doesn’t have an answer for Branson, which disappoints him, but her affections for him are increasingly showing as she reaches up to touch his cheek.
When Matthew and Lavinia announce that their engagement is back on and that they are going to get married at Downton, Sybil realizes that the war is well and truly over and it is time for her to move on. Branson has waited so long for her to say those words that he cannot believe he is finally hearing them, she tells him he can kiss her, but that is all until everything is settled, that doesn’t matter to him as it is enough that he could kiss her.Sybil tells everyone that she is ill but actually she and Branson are on their way to Gretna Green to get married. Mary, Edith and Anna find them and convince Sybil to return to Downton with them. She decides to try to gain her parent’s forgiveness instead of sneaking away like a thief in the night. Before departing she tells him she will stay true to him and kiss him, he closes the door behind them. Still trying to convince Sybil to see sense, Mary and Edith are horrified to hear she has invited Tom over in order to tell the rest of the family that evening about their plans. Tom is now a journalist, which will hopefully, according to Sybil, sound better than chauffeur to Violet, but nevertheless they are all stunned. Robert orders them to break it off, but neither of them waver in their love and determination. The day after his and Sybil's announcement, Tom arrives at the Servants Hall. Anna, who already knows about him and Sybil, speaks to him, knowing that it wasn't easy for them. Daisy briefly over hears Anna and him talking, at which point Tom informs his former co-workers he and Lady Sybil are getting married, much to their shock, and to Mr Carson's dismay. When Mr Carson angrily asks him if he has no shame, Branson replies he is a good man and that he himself has no shame and "I have great pride in the love of that young woman [Sybil] and I will strive to be worthy of it." He informs them he is staying at the Grantham Arms until Matthew and Lavinia are married and Sybil is ready to leave for Dublin then leaves the Servant Hall, bidding them all a good day. Later, her father and her grandmother both try to talk Sybil out of her plans, but Sybil explains that she couldn't care less what the aristocratic world will think of her and she vows to her father and grandmother that She will not give Tom up. Robert then warns her that there will be no more money, and that her life will be very different if she stays with Tom, but this is exactly what Sybil wants. Robert then went to see Tom at Granthan Arms and tried to bribe him into leaving Downton without Sybil, but is swiftly rejected. Branson attended Lavinia's funeral in order to pay his respects and to see Sybil. After realizing that there is nothing he can do to stop them, Robert agrees to part as friends, giving them his blessing and says he will give them some money. Giving Tom a friendly warning of the consequences of mistreating his daughter, Tom tells him he would expect no less. They shake hands then Tom and Sybil walk away hand-in-hand. Violet rejoins Robert asking him if he has finally given in. Like many aristocratic generations before them, they plan to minimize the scandal of the Lady and the Chauffeur by giving Tom a made up back story.
Tom and Sybil are mentioned of being married - something which happened between April and December 1919 - and they are now living in Ireland; only Sybil's sisters Mary and Edith attended his and Sybil's wedding day, as Cora was unable to attend - as she had not fully recovered from the Spanish Flu - and Robert and Violet chose not to attend feigning illness. Robert later gives Cora a letter from Sybil, to Cora, who gasps in delight with the news that she and Tom are expecting their first baby. After the servants ball, a few days later, Cora tells Robert that she will not be kept away from her first grandchild. She admits it wasn't the lifestyle that she wanted for her daughter, but it is what happened and they all must accept it. She wants to go visit Sybil in Ireland, and for Sybil and her husband to come visit Downton.Carson and Thomas Barrow both refused to act as valet to him, so Mrs Hughes says that Alfred will have to do it, as he will merely need to check if Tom needs anything.
Tom also clashed with his in-laws about the proper dinner wear. Sybil suggested that he could buy proper wear with the money they had been given, but he refused on principle. He met Sybil's maternal grandmother, Martha Levinson, during the visit. Whilst catching up with the family, Martha revealed that she approved of Tom, his job and his republican sympathies. Throughout his visit, Tom tried to maintain a balance between his views and his wife's happiness. He also formed a friendship with Matthew Crawley, who tried to help him to fit in into the Crawley family. Eventually he did start wearing evening clothes, admitting in 1921 that he stopped wanting to talk about his clothing during every dinner.
At a pre-wedding dinner, Tom's drink was drugged by one of the guests, Larry Grey - a former suitor of Sybil's - so he would appear rude and drunk to the party. This caused Tom to loudly voice his left wing, republican views, much to everyone's discomfort and Larry's amusement. Fortunately, Crawley family friend and Lady Edith's then love interest Anthony Strallan informed everyone that he saw Grey putting something in Tom's drink. When questioned, Larry said that Tom was "only a grubby little chauffeur chap," which made Robert, Matthew, and Grey's father, Lord Merton, stand up from their chairs. Larry's father apologized for his son's actions and hoped Tom would be well again in time for Matthew and Mary's wedding. Matthew Crawley also agreed with Grey's father, and to show his solidarity with Tom, announced that he wanted Tom to be his best man at his wedding, much to the delight of Sybil, Mary, and Isobel, though it was a bit of a shock for Robert and Carson. Tom was forgiven and Sybil helped him back to their room so he could rest. Nevertheless he still apologized for his behaviour.
Before the wedding, Tom lost his fight about his attire, being forced to wear one of Matthew's old morning suits by Violet and Isobel, since he was now best man. Later, Tom helped Matthew to reconcile with Mary after they had a tense argument. His father-in-law thanked Tom for helping them, and the following day, he stood at Matthew's side in the church as best man.
A short time later, Tom and Sybil returned to Downton to attend the wedding of Lady Edith and Sir Anthony Strallan, and become aware that the Crawley family was having money trouble after Robert lost a great deal in a bad investment. They also learn that the family would have to sell Downton Abbey and live in a house which formerly belong to Robert's great-grandmother, which would be renamed Downton Place. At Cora's suggestion, the family visited the house and had a picnic the day before Edith's wedding. Here, Tom learned that the family planned to inform the staff (his former co-workers) after the wedding. Whilst observing the house, Tom mentioned that it looked like a fairy palace to most people, whilst Sybil noted that her family would be able to run the house with a smaller staff. However, later, Matthew Crawley accepted a large fortune, which meant that the Crawley family could stay instead of leaving Downton Abbey.
During dinner one evening, Sir Anthony told Tom that he learned from Edith that he's interested in politics, to which Robert politely remarked that "Tom is our tame revolutionary", and Sir Anthony replied that "Every family should have one". After Tom and Matthew left the room to play a game of billiards, Robert told him that the family are getting used to Tom, and he hoped Sir Anthony would too. On the day of Edith and Anthony's wedding, Tom was present at the church, seated next to his wife, Violet and Isobel, and witnessed Anthony leave Edith at the alter. He and Sybil were both shocked and upset for Edith. Following this, he and Sybil returned to Dublin.
Not long afterwards, Tom returned to Downton on his own after getting into trouble with the Irish police for being present at the firing of an aristocratic family's house, and for attending republican meetings which advocated some level of violence. His arrival surprised his in-laws, but his explanation left them shocked, with Robert becoming enraged at Tom's behaviour and the fact he left Sybil to follow him, since she was pregnant and Ireland was foreign to her, as well as dangerous. Tom was shown to be sincerely upset with himself and his behaviour. Carson, upon hearing the news, told Mrs. Hughes that he knew it would happen, that Tom would bring shame and dishonour to the house. Mrs. Hughes however defended him, suggesting they wait until the morning. Later, Carson thought Tom might have attempted to burn Downton down, but it was just Mrs. Hughes adjusting to a toaster she bought.
Sybil arrived safely at Downton a day later. Tom was so pleased and relieved to see her, and they shared a kiss and hug upon reuniting. Robert was then asked to intervene on Tom's behalf. He did so, however, only for Sybil's sake, and was able to ensure that Tom remained free so long as he stayed at Downton and did not go back to Ireland, else he would be arrested. Tom was thunderstruck and furious by the ultimatum, claiming that he needed to be there to see the revolution through. Sybil did not know he had gone to several meetings of revolutionaries, and insisted he stay when he said he couldn't and that their child be born at Downton even though he wanted it born in Dublin, because she felt Downton could give them the peace and safety they needed. Even though Tom insisted he was grateful to have been kept out of prison, Robert doesn't believe him, thinking he only says as much to keep peace with Sybil.Tom was at Sybil's side when she went into labour, he discussed with her, that he thinking about their future, and that his brother, who lives in Liverpool, might be having opening at his place at work, meaning he will be working with cars again, but Sybil insisted that they must go forward, and he must promise her that. Tom felt so helpless, and seeing her in pain, but Sybil was pleased that he was with her. Later, Doctor Clarkson became worried when Sybil started showing signs of eclampsia, which endangered her life, but both Robert and Sir Philip (who had been hired by Robert because of his issues with Doctor Clarkson's medical capabilities) ignored Clarkson's advice, with Sir Philip believing that taking Sybil to a public hospital would be far too much of a risk to her and the baby. This deeply concerned Tom, Cora and the rest of the family, but there was no time left to go ahead with Clarkson's option.
Whilst Sybil gave birth, Tom waited with Robert, Matthew and Violet in the library, until Mary entered to announce that Sybil had given birth to a baby girl, and that both mother and daughter were doing well. Tom immediately went to see his wife and daughter, telling Sybil how beautiful their child was, and that he loved her so much. He then left to allow Sybil to sleep.
However, later that night, Sybil became dangerously ill. Tom was present at her bedside as Cora and Robert were summoned, and pleaded to know what was wrong with Sybil and asked for help. As Sybil's symptoms became worse and she started to have seizures, Tom became more fearful and devastated, as Doctor Clarkson informed him and the family that it was eclampsia and that, sadly, nothing could be done to save Sybil's life once the fits started. Tom pleaded for the doctors to help Sybil as she suffocated, as Matthew too questioned how in that day-and-age, no medical help was possible. With nothing else to do, Tom held Sybil's hand, assuring her that he was there, asking her to breathe and not to leave him as she continued to seize. Sadly, Sybil suffocated and died, with Tom, her mother and father, her sisters Mary and Edith, and her brother-in-law at her bedside, leaving them devastated and heartbroken, most particularly when they heard the cry of Tom and Sybil's newborn daughter. Tom's former co-workers were all upset when they learned that Sybil had died. When Carson asked what they were going to do about Tom now, Mrs. Hughes said they would show him they were kind people.
After Sybil's death, Tom's mother-in-law sat and spoke to her youngest daughter's body, promising her that the family would look after Tom and their daughter. The following morning, Tom was with Mary in Sybil's room, where her body was laid out, when Edith informed them that the funeral directors had arrived to take away Sybil's body, to which Mary emphasized to Tom that they had to let them take her, even though it would be very hard for them to let Sybil go. Tom walked into a corner as Mary and Edith said their goodbyes to their youngest sister, and then left the room to let Tom say goodbye in private.Shortly afterwards, Violet came to visit the family, finding Robert, Cora, Mary, Edith, Matthew and Isobel in the drawing room, asking where Tom was. Edith replied that he was upstairs and had rejected her when she'd asked if he had wanted anything. This caused Cora to comment "He wants his wife back, but that's what he can't have." Cora then started to leave the room whilst informing the family that she was going to write a letter to Dr Clarkson to apologize for Robert's behaviour towards him and not trusting his advice, which could have saved Sybil's life, thereby revealing that she blamed Robert for Sybil's death.
Tom chose to name his daughter Sybil, admitting though it would be painful he thought "it's right" because he wanted to remember her mother whenever he looked at her. He later had her baptised Catholic, like himself, stating that she was Irish. Matthew later began to include Tom in his plans for Downton, in which Tom surprised him with some knowledge about business and land. He reveals that his grandfather was a tenant farmer in Galway, specializing in Blackface sheep. When Downton's financial agent Jarvis resigned, Violet suggested Tom replace him, which he did, and moved with his daughter and her nanny in the agent's house. Later he and Matthew began a plan to buy farmland in order to build up an income for Downton. Their father-in-law was very upset about Matthew´s and Tom´s plans for modernizing the management of the Downton estate in order to make it a financially sound enterprise. In a heated exchange with his sons-in-law who are backed by Cora and Mary he threatened to withdraw from the whole operation and "take a back seat" from now on. Afterwards Tom was able to convince Lord Grantham that there still is an important role for him to play, and that they will be able to turn things around together, if each of them, i.e. Lord Grantham, Tom and Matthew, do the best they can do for the family and the estate. Lord Grantham was very impressed by Tom´s eloquence and asked in return for considering Tom´s appeal that Tom play cricket for the house team in the upcoming match against the village. Tom agreed.
As he learned cricket for the first time from Matthew at their father-in-law's request, he told him no matter what he learned, whether it be riding, fishing, or shooting, he would never be made into a gentleman, that "I'll still be an Irish Mick in my heart." Matthew responded by saying, "So I should hope."
At the cricket match, seeing how his daughter was surrounded by Sybil's family, Tom asked Cora if he could instead live at Downton until she was older, to which Cora readily agreed. The series ended with Tom catching Dr Clarkson out, and embracing both Robert and Matthew.daughter in 1921 when the family went to Duneagle Castle in Scotland. At a dinner with Mrs Crawley she gave him much praise for having "managed a delicate transition superbly" and encouraged him to be more self-confident in his new position as manager of the Downton estate. New maid Edna Braithwaite became interested in him and pursued him. She purposefully made him feel awkward about his new position by repeatedly referring to his having risen from being a chauffeur to becoming a member of the aristocratic family. Though he was not ready for a new relationship, as Mrs. Hughes noted, he did not discourage her. Mrs Hughes told Tom that he should not be ashamed of having risen to his new role in the family and that "Lady Sybil would have been proud of him". At this Tom broke down in grief and Mrs Hughes tried to console him. Edna is soon fired, and Tom still deeply misses his wife. He was also at one point taking Isis for a walk. When the family returned to Downton, Tom remarked to Edith that during their absence he had been "on some kind of a learning curve". He and the Crawley family learned that Mary has given birth to her and Matthew's first child, a baby boy, they were all waiting for Matthew's arrival back to Downton, to take the whole family to meet his and Mary's son in hospital, but unknown to everyone Matthew was killed in a car crash.
Unfortunately, Mary doesn't want to hear what he has to say, so he turns to Mr Carson to help talk some sense into her, which also fails. While walking around the estate with Robert, he tries to persuade him to stop trying to protect Mary from the outside world and help her to deal with her grief and move on so she could play a part in the running of Downton, which causes a disagreement. Robert reminds him that she has just lost the love of her life to which Tom reminds him he knows how that feels.
Tom is also shown to have a strong bond with his daughter. During a visit to spend time with her, he calls her his "darling" and goes for a walk with her. He is displeased to also hear that Edna Braithwaite would be returning to Downton as a lady's maid. Feeling guilty, he decides to tell the family, but Carson insists they cannot say anything about why she had to leave in the first place. So they and Mrs Hughes determine they must keep an eye on her, but Mrs Hughes fears Edna's return is akin to a ticking bomb. On a happier note for Tom, he is also pleased when he sees that Mary had decided the listen to him and had decided to attend the luncheon to discuss future prospects for Downton, offering her his place opposite her father at the table.
When a letter from Matthew is found, stating his last wishes, Tom is happy to discover that Matthew had wanted Mary to be his sole heiress in event of his death. He unlike her father, fully supports her in her decision to take on her new found role in helping to run the estate. Unfortunately, because Robert is determined to make sure that letter is not seen as a will, meaning Mary would not inherit Matthew's share, Violet asks Tom to help Mary as her "instructor" and explain how the land works, such as the crops on the farm.
He takes Mary out one afternoon, and tells her which land belongs to Downton and what may become of it. He explains there are death duties which much be paid, with tax and that her father intends to sell part of the land in order to pay it off in one big lump. It seems that both Mary and Tom agree that this is not a good idea and think there are other measures they could take before making that kind of drastic decision. When Robert finally accepts Matthew's letter is a will and Mary will inherit half of the estate and have a say in the running of it, Mary tells him of her disagreement in selling part of the land, to Robert's dismay, who tells Tom that he "better not have put her up to this" to which Tom maintains he has not.
During a house party Tom once again feels uncomfortable mixing with nobles, and dancing with a duchess. Then Edna goes into his room that night after giving him whiskey. Afterwards, he is racked with guilt and horror at what has happened, but Edna relentlessly insists he promise to marry her if she turns out to be pregnant and not cast her aside, trying to make him feel like he is guilty when in truth she is the guilty one. The family notes something is wrong with Tom, but he does not tell them. When Mary senses something is wrong while they are in London, she asks him to tell her what it is. He tells her she'll despise him if he did. Mary says she once said that to someone and he did not (regarding Matthew and Pamuk). But Tom still will not speak out, leading Mary to suggest he find someone to talk to, that it will make him feel better. Once they return to Downton, Tom confides in Mrs Hughes, who brings Edna before him and reveals it was all a trap, that she took steps to ensure she did not get pregnant and would not have until after he agreed to marry her, and it would not be by him. She also points out Edna was not seduced, since she was the one who got him drunk and climbed into his bed. Edna quickly leaves. Tom later remarks to Mary that he was glad he took her advice, because he is feeling better.Tom continues to spend time with his daughter, happily playing with her. Nevertheless the house party made him feel more than ever than he does not belong at Downton. He also feels he does not know what his beliefs are anymore, and that he could not return to Ireland now because Downton has changed him too much. Instead he considers going with Sybbie to America, where some of his relatives have gone.
As he later tells Isobel, he has grown to love the Crawley family but still feels he could never fit in at Downton. Additionally, he is certain he will never find another noblewoman like Sybil who would fall in love with him, nor that his in-laws would be exactly comfortable if he brought an Irish working girl to live at Downton. But he does promise Mary not to leave until after a new pig farming venture they are pursuing is completed. He later dances with Isobel while Jack Ross's jazz band plays. She also encourages him to consider staying, and perhaps to join the local political council.He later attends a political rally with John Ward speaking, at Isobel's suggestion (she intended to join him but did not go because she was attending Violet, who had taken ill). There he meets Sarah Bunting, a local schoolteacher who does not look favorably on aristocrats. She is unconvinced of his socialism because he is Lord Grantham's son-in-law and local agent, but later is intrigued by him more when she learns he was once the chauffeur at Downton. They meet again later when he introduces her to Isobel, then at the Downton bazaar.
In London, Tom seems more comfortable than before mingling with the upper classes, having small talk with them and wearing his white tie and tails. During the ball Violet reminds him that these are his people now and that the Crawleys are his family. He agrees with her about his being a member of the Crawley family but challenges Violet on the upper classes being his people. Then he asks her to dance which she accepts. Later speaking to Edith, he clearly thinks of himself and her as the rebels in the family because he tells her that they both need to stand up to them. He insists while they may love the family, they must both fight their corner for what they believe in, which Edith gratefully accepts. It seems now that the family -including Violet - has fully embraced Tom as one of them and that he is gradually coming to terms with the implications of his status as a member of the aristocratic Crawley family while nevertheless being resolved not to lose his identity in the process. Whether or not he will go to America remains unknown.
Tom Branson's main interests are history and politics, something which amuses Robert at first but leads to regret when Tom influences his youngest daughter, Sybil to rebel. By the time of the war, Tom believes Sybil is in love with him, but that she is too scared to admit it. He is very persistent and blunt; Sybil tells Mary that he is frightfully full of himself. He knows what he wants and will wait for however long it takes to get her. He also has a strong will and is not easily swayed when tempted, such as when Travis and Robert oppose him over his daughter's christening or when Edna tried to blackmail him.
Tom takes great pride in his Irish heritage and his Catholic faith. He has a good heart and is deeply saddened when he hears that the Tsar’s family have all been shot, but he believes in progress and thinks that sometimes the future needs terrible sacrifices in order to get better. When he was the chauffeur, he does not appear to have made any close friends at Downton other than Sybil, although he seemed to have a cordial relationship with most of the staff, many of whom seem unsure about how to treat him after his change in status though some treat him with respect. But over time, he grew extremely close to people upstairs (Mary, Cora, and Isobel) and downstairs (Mrs Hughes). Tom was initially against the English and aristocrats, but by 1922, as he tells Sarah Bunting, he does not believe in types but in people.
- Main article: Sybil and Tom Branson
Hired to be the Crawley family chauffeur, he inspires Lady Sybil Crawley to get involved in political causes, and over time they develop a romantic relationship, later marrying despite the reservations of her family, and living in Dublin, Ireland where Tom gets a job as a journalist. For Tom Sybil is the love of his life and Sybil feels the same way about him. By Christmas 1919, they are expecting their first child and in 1920 return to Downton Abbey to visit the Crawley family and attend Mary's wedding. Months later, Tom unexpectedly arrives at Downton after fleeing Ireland without Sybil, leaving her to arrive the following day. Due to the trouble he is in, Tom has been forbidden from returning to Ireland, so he and his wife begin living at Downton. Sybil later gives birth to their first and only child, a daughter, but dies shortly afterwards of eclampsia with Tom and her family at her side, leaving Tom, the Crawley family and their staff shocked and heartbroken. Tom names his daughter after his wife. He deeply mourns for her and tells Mrs Hughes that he cannot bear to be without her. He also fiercely defends her honour such as after Edna Braithwaite took advantage of him: when she insisted she was good enough for him if he was good enough for Sybil, he angrily tells her to not speak her name.
Mrs Hughes is somewhat of a mother figure to Tom. She advises him to be careful when it comes to his feelings for Sybil. She warns him he will get his heart broken and lose his job. After Tom and Sybil are married however she is one of the few servants who welcome Tom back to the house. She gives him advice on his new job as estate manager and comforts him when he is still grieving for Sybil. The first time Edna Braithwaite stalked Tom, Mrs Hughes comforted and advised him. After Edna returned and tried to trap him into marrying her, on Mary Crawley's advice to speak to someone he confided to Mrs Hughes (admitting he couldn't think of anyone else to turn to, signifying how much he trusts and respects her), and she saved him from Edna's schemes.
Whilst Mary was initially against Sybil and Tom's marriage due to his being a servant, she later changed her opinion because she realized how happy her favourite sister Sybil was with him. She promised Sybil that "we will get to know and value him". This was partly shown when she agreed to support Tom in his wish to have their daughter christened a Catholic, because Sybil loved him and did not object as she saw how important it was to him. Tom in return came to respect her more, and named her his daughter's godmother. Later, when both their spouses have died and they are both left alone with young children, Mary and Tom develop a close friendship. He supports her decision to be more involved in how Downton is run when her father does not at first and becomes her instructor to help her understand how running the land works, which helps Mary immensely. They also agree on many things and have similar interests in mind. While in London, she conforts him when he is being secretive and worried. When he tells her she would despise him if he told her what was wrong, she tells him she once said that to someone else, namely Matthew about Kemal Pamuk. He does not open up to her, but she insists he find someone he can talk to, leading him to confide in Mrs Hughes about Edna's schemes. Later, when Robert commented someone upset Tom at the house party she is eager to hear who it was, but he quickly insists it was no one. After Tom presents the possibility of him and Sybbie leaving Downton, possibly for America, she speaks against it, insisting he has made a new start at Downton and that "We don't want to lose you Tom." Later he does confide in her after he saw Rose meeting Jack Ross in Thirsk.
Edna was a general maid who started work at Downton Abbey in September 1921. She almost immediately set her sights on Tom, going so far as to kiss him in his room whilst he was changing. Tom however, was not ready for a new relationship, being still in mourning for Sybil. When she returned, on Carson's advice he did his best to avoid her. Alas she continued stalking him, even to the point of intoxicating then taking advantage of him. Then she tried to finalize her social climb by insisting he promise to marry her if she was pregnant. He tried to force her away, and got angry when she brought up his marriage to try to justify herself. Later when Mrs Hughes revealed the truth about Edna's lies and schemes, Tom showed no remorse for Edna. After she leaves, he immediately tries to move on from what she did to him, still not revealing what happened to the family.
Lord Grantham was unhappy when he found out about his daughter Sybil´s love for Tom. Both men clashed over this matter but Tom rhetorically got the better of Robert when he rejected Robert´s offer of a bribe to leave Sybil and instead pointed out that Sybil had chosen him instead of having been seduced by him as Robert had claimed. Although at the end of series 2, Robert seems to be reconciled to the fact that his daughter will get married to Tom as they are seen shaking hands on Tom and Sybil´s departure for Dublin, by the following Christmas it becomes clear that Robert is still very much against this match because Tom personifies everything that Robert rejects. On learning that Sybil is pregnant he uses for the first time a derogatory term,"a Fenian grandchild", to denounce his expected grandchild and Tom. The fact that his son in law Tom is an Irish republican, a socialist and a Catholic of humble origins and that he firmly stands by his beliefs in the face of his aristocratic in-laws, makes Robert angry and uncomfortable in Tom´s presence. The feeling is mutual. When Sybil dies, he is happy to discover that Tom intends to leave and live elsewhere. They only begin to bond when they attend a cricket match and after Tom decides to stay at Downton so that his daughter could be around her loving family, does he begin to understand that Tom´s astuteness, his eloquence, his sincerity and diligence are an asset to the family, who have begun to accept Tom as part of the family. The turning point comes when Tom, after a bitter argument between Robert and the rest of the family over how the estate is to be run in the future, convinces Robert to join him and Matthew in their efforts to modernize the management of Downton. Since this agreement, Robert has begun to depend on Tom to help him save the estate. They don't always seem to agree, such as to whether Mary should play a bigger part in how Downton is run, but it is clear that Robert does now value Tom and his outlook as well as his position in now being part of the family. When Tom presents the possibility of leaving Downton, perhaps for America, Robert advises him not to do anything "in a hurry". Cora defends and respects Tom and his wishes, even though she does not want him to go either, remarking how Robert had always been the one who wanted Tom to leave. He insists to her that he does not want her to go, but it seems his primary reason is because Sybbie would go too, as he appears to still want to have a major role in her upbringing.
While Matthew and Tom did not have many dealings during the first two series, Tom does say he is pleased to hear of Matthew's recovery from the injuries he sustained during the war, because he likes him. They later establish a friendship when Tom and Sybil return to Downton for Mary and Matthew's wedding. He defends Tom whenever the family are tough on him, saying that they are to be brothers-in-law and they should stick together because not only do they both have high minded Crawley wives, they both feel that they are outsiders in the aristocratic Crawley family, Matthew being an upper middle-class man and Tom being of working-class origins, and that they have to adjust to some extent while staying true to their beliefs and keeping their identity. They support each other in modernizing the estate and become very firm friends and allies. They value each other's opinions and their alliance seems to be doing Downton some good. Tom is obviously saddened to hear of Matthew's death and does his upmost best to make sure that his and Matthew's plans aren't forgotten in light of this tragedy. He consoles Matthew's widow and enlists her help in protecting their plans. When a letter from Matthew is found stating that he wants Mary to be his sole heiress, Tom defends the letter and tries to make sure Matthew's last wishes are heard.
While Isobel and Tom did not interact much during the first two series, she is always kind to him and he mentions that he likes her. Isobel was one of the few members of the family that wasn't against Tom and Sybil's wedding. In series three, she welcomes them warmly when Tom and Sybil arrived to Downton Abbey for Mary and Matthew's wedding. Isobel praised Matthew's decision of naming Tom his best man. When Sybil dies, Isobel tries to comfort a devastated Tom.
By 1921 they form a closer relationship when both stay behind when the rest of the Crawleys go to Duneagle, they have dinner together and talk about Tom's new role as manager of Downton. After Matthew's death, Tom comforts Isobel through her mourning, and becomes like a second son to her. She speaks to him about his considering leaving Downton, and they dance together when Jack Ross's band plays at Downton for Robert's birthday party. She also becomes concerned with his life beyond the estate and wishes to rekindle his politics, even defending them against Sarah Bunting.
Tom Branson deeply loves his daughter. He named her after her mother so he could remember her whenever he looked at Sybbie. He will also not allow himself to be separated from her, as she is all he has left of her mother. He spends a great deal of time with her, holding her constantly as she is growing up and happily playing with her in the nursery. He has her baptized Catholic like himself. He is grateful for his wife's family in helping raise her, though he may not be completely convinced she is having a good childhood, as he later begins to consider a different future for himself and Sybbie, even if it means them moving away from Downton. He feels it would be better for her to have a clean slate, rather than grow up where she will constantly be reminded her father is, in his words, an "uppity chauffeur."
- Sybil: "It seems rather unlikely: a revolutionary chauffeur."
- Branson: "I'm a socialist, not a revolutionary and I won't always be a chauffeur."
- — Sybil and Branson discuss political ideologies.[src]
- Sybil: "I hope you do go into politics; it's a fine ambition."
- Branson: "Ambition or dream?"
- — Sybil and Branson in 1914.[src]
- "Look, it comes down to whether or not you love me! That's all! That's it! The rest is detail."
- —to Sybil.
- "Sometimes a hard sacrifice must be made for a future that's worth having."
- —to Sybil.
- "I'd wait forever."
- —to Sybil.
- "I´m sorry but I can´t change into someone else just to please you."
- —to his in-laws during his first upstairs dinner at Downton Abbey.
- "We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do."
- —to Robert Crawley.
- "My daughter's Irish, and she'll be Catholic, like her father."
- "I'll not be separated from her. She's all I have left of her mother."
- —speaking of his daughter.
- "Every man or woman who marries into this house, every child born into it, has to put their gifts at the family's disposal."
- —to Robert Crawley.
- Tom has more than one cousin, for despite telling Sybil he "lost a cousin", he later tells Matthew that he can "get a cousin from Ireland" to look after Baby Sybbie for him, meaning he has more than one. The cousin who died was male, and since he said he could hire a woman or "get a cousin from Ireland" it is possible he may have at least one female cousin.
- Mary asked Tom "The brother who's coming to stay?" to confirm if Tom was talking about Kieran when he mentioned he originally would be moving in with him, so it might be possible he has more than one brother.
- It is unknown if his father and grandfather are still alive; Tom was old enough to remember visiting his grandfather and seeing the sheep he raised. It is unknown if this grandfather is his maternal or paternal grandfather.
- The credits for all episodes from Episode 1.03 to Episode 2.08 list him as "Tom Branson" as opposed to "Thomas Branson".
|Appearances and Mentions|
|Series 1||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3|
|Series 2||Episode 1|
|Series 3||Episode 1|
|Series 4||Episode 1|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 He is 23 in May 1913, so that means he must have been born between May of 1889 and May of 1890, to be 23 at the time.
- ↑ Episode 4.03
- ↑ Tom mentioned his grandfather in Episode 3.06 and Episode 3.07.
- ↑ Tom now works as the Manager of the Downton Estate, from Episode 3.07.
- ↑ Episode 4.03
- ↑ The wedding of Matthew and Lavinia is stated as being in April; Episode #2.8 starts in April 1919 as shown with the opening credits. It is 3 day before the wedding of Matthew and Lavinia as mention by Lady Mary in the opening scene. Shortly after Lavinia falls victim to the Spanish Flu and dies. This indicates that Lavinia died in April of 1919 so Sybil and Branson were married sometime between April and December 1919.