Though he never actually wrote a will, it is determined that the letter was meant to serve as such until he could finalise a proper one. Mary as a result owns half the estate and she immediately begins working with Tom in the management. She also urges Tom to speak to her when she sees something is wrong namely Edna Braithwaite's scheming but he feels she would despise him and says nothing, however she urges him to find someone that he can talk to.
Tom eventually confides in Mrs Hughes, and she quickly puts an end to Edna's blackmail.
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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 two suitors. First is Anthony — or Tony — Foyle, Lord Gillingham, an old childhood acquaintance whom she turns down as she has not moved on from Matthew. He becomes engaged to another woman, but calls it off as he still has feelings for Mary. Later, Evelyn Napier returns with his boss, Charles Blake.
Mary and Blake do not hit it off to start, until both dirty themselves in order to help out some pigs that the family had begun to invest in and 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. Although Mary suffers initially from a crisis of conscience, when Bates proves instrumental in averting a royal scandal caused in part by Rose, she decides to destroy the evidence.
It is later revealed that the ticket in fact proved his innocence. After Rose declares to Mary her intentions to marry African British 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 would not do it if they lived in a better world, Mary replies that if they were in a better world, she would not want him to. Although Blake and Gillingham initially vie for Mary's affections, Blake decides to back down, and Tony offers to have a sexual relationship with Mary to persuade her of his love, but the encounter leaves Mary even more unsure of her feelings.
Mary later decides to turn Gillingham down, but he refuses to break up with her, as he believes they are to be married. Blake then intervenes again, and kisses Mary in front of Gillingham at a theater to persuade Tony that their "understanding" is over. Tony then tells Mary that he is re-engaged with Mabel, although it is clear that he loves Mary more, and is just settling with Mabel. Blake then tells Mary he is departing for Poland for several months.
While at a shooting party at a rented castle of cousin Rose's in-laws, Mary meets Henry Talbot played by Matthew Goode. Mary is at first cold to him, but then warms up to him when she sees what a good shooter he is.
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Talbot believes Mary is a war widow, but Mary is about to tell him that her husband actually died in a car accident. She learns that Talbot is a race car driver, and they dance at a party. The next morning Talbot abruptly leaves. After the Carson wedding, Mary reunites with him at a family dinner party. They then get married at the end of Series 6.
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Her bitter rivalry with Mary is further fuelled 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. Towards the end of Series 1 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. During Series 2, Edith steps out of her comfort zone. She was the first of the Crawley family to learn how to drive a car, taking lessons from the chauffeur, Branson.
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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.
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As a result, she becomes more sympathetic and is commended by a general Matthew brought back to Downton while on leave. After the war ends, 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 and they get engaged. Some of the family quietly disapprove but keep quiet to make Edith happy.
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They are set to marry, but Anthony has second thoughts and jilts her at the altar, leaving Edith devastated and believing she is destined to be a spinster. In Episode 6, she receives a very interesting proposition to write for 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, she confronts him and he tells her his wife is mentally incapacitated and can no longer recognise him, so he is unable to move on with his life.
Despite having fallen in love with Edith, he decides to step away when her family disapproves of his intentions toward her. The final straw is thought to have come when Matthew, who Edith hoped would understand, agrees with the other Crawleys and advises Gregson to bid Edith goodbye. However, Edith is in love with Gregson and decides to pursue a relationship with him despite the fact that it cannot lead to marriage. In Series 4, Gregson begins searching for ways to divorce his wife, and learns that by becoming a German citizen, he could achieve this and marry Edith. Gregson soon disappears and Edith finds out she is pregnant, increasing her worry.
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 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 in tears, she cannot go through with it. Edith considers having a local farmer raise the child, but Rosamund proposes going abroad and giving the child away there, so Edith's reputation will be safe.
Eventually Violet finds out and agrees with Rosamund, but Edith does not like the thought of giving her child away. Nevertheless, she goes to Geneva and gives her daughter away. However, she soon decides she cannot live with this arrangement and returns to Geneva to reclaim her. She chooses to go with her original plan and has a local farmer, Mr Drewe, take her in. However, tensions rise between Edith and Mrs Drewe over her attachment to the girl, named Marigold.
Rosamund suggests sending Marigold abroad again. Finally, when Edith and the family receive word that Michael is indeed dead, Edith tells Mrs Drewe the truth and reclaims Marigold before leaving for London. However, Mrs Drewe reveals the truth to Cora, who finds Edith and persuades her to come home, inventing a story that the Drewes are unable to support the extra child, so Marigold becomes part of the Crawley household.
Lord Grantham eventually suspects the child's true connection to the family, but is persuaded by Lady Grantham not to reveal the truth while the family becomes used to Marigold. Eventually Robert does confront Edith and she admits the truth. Later, her brother-in-law Tom tells her about a cousin of his that was in the same situation. She then realises that everyone has guessed the truth about Marigold being her illegitimate child, except for Mary.
In Series 6, she begins a warm friendship and later becomes engaged to Bertie Pelham, the former agent and heir to Brancaster Castle, although he is only known as the agent when they meet him in the Season 5 finale, "A Moorland Holiday". Because she had not told him initially, he feels as if he cannot trust her and breaks off the engagement.
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After a heated argument with Mary, Edith leaves for London. Later, she sees Bertie again after Mary arranges a reunion. Their engagement resumes and they are married at the end of the series. Her marriage makes her a Marchioness , outranking her father in the aristocracy ladder. It turns out to be a happy marriage. During one episode, she dons a pair of trousers, which was daring for women at the time, and 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 nursing college in York.
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During the First World War , Sybil is distressed when she learns that her friend Tom Bellasis 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 , 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. 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 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.