All sisters fight. That’s hardly breaking news. However, Crawley sisters Mary and Edith took their disagreements to a new level. Mary was the older sister, with a never ending line of suitors asking for her hand in marriage. Edith was the middle daughter, unlucky in love, forever stuck in Mary’s shadow.
Mary never misses a moment to remind Edith of her flaws, once saying, “with Edith, I just say things, and they can’t be unsaid.” Edith is so jealous of Mary, she never fails to use a scandal to make her sister look bad. Going far beyond a rivalry, these are the best fights of Mary and Edith on Downton Abbey.
9MARY SHAMES EDITH’S FASHION CHOICES
It’s no secret that Edith is not the flashiest of the three sisters. Sybil is the bold one, Mary is the stylish one and Edith is the plain one. We’re sure it doesn’t help her confidence that Mary seems to relish in reminding her how out of place she is.
At an event, as Edith tries to make conversation, Mary delivers this zinger out of nowhere and for no reason. “I’ll admit that if I ever wanted to attract a man, I’d stay clear of those clothes and that hat.” With a lifetime of this, we can understand Edith’s quest to bring down her sister.
8EDITH OVERREACTS AT JAMES AND PATRICK’S MEMORIAL
Right from the start we know these aren’t going to be the closest siblings. When Robert receives word that James and Patrick have perished in the Titanic, it’s a blow for the family, as they are left without an heir. Mary was supposed to marry Patrick, so she’s expected to be in mourning.
Of course, she wasn’t really in love with him and isn’t as sad as she thinks she should be. At the memorial Edith is very emotional over the loss, and Mary instantly chides her for being dramatic. We find out later that Edith had feelings for Patrick, but that doesn’t matter to Mary.
7EDITH TRIES TO INTEREST MATTHEW
When Matthew first comes to Downton, Mary has no interest in him, as she sees him as the competition for her inheritance. Edith thinks this is her chance and tries to grab his attention. Matthew is a perfect gentleman and lets her know he’s not interested.
Mary and Matthew have an instant chemistry that’s clear to everyone but them, so it’s yet another case of Edith losing out to Mary. Her lack of prospects propels her into an ill-advised relationship with Sir Anthony Strallan.
6EDITH BELIEVES PATRICK IS ALIVE
During the war, Downton is turned into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. When a Canadian soldier named Patrick Gordon shows up, he says he’s actually presumed dead cousin Patrick Crawley.
Edith naively takes him at his word, because he knows a few childhood stories. Though they aren’t together at the time, Mary is protective of Matthew’s status and thinks he’s a con man. The two have words about it, with Mary positive he’s a liar. In the end, he leaves and Edith is alone again.
5MARY INSULTS EDITH’S ROMANTIC PROSPECTS
Edith’s lack of a love life is the subject of much gossip around the manor. In season one, Mary is trying to connect with the Duke of Crowborough, so they can marry and save Downton from going to a stranger.
Despite the charm of Charlie Cox, he’s a stuck up bore, who Mary can’t tolerate. When he leaves without a proposal, Edith says, “he slipped the hook,” to which Mary responds, “at least I’m not fishing with no bait.” We felt that one through the TV.
4MARY RUINS EDITH’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ANTHONY STRALLAN
The untimely demise of Mr. Pamuk sent shockwaves through the family for years. When Edith takes it upon herself to write the Turkish ambassador about the details of his death, Mary lets her know revenge is coming.
Later at a garden party, hearing that Anthony Strallan is about to propose to Edith, she makes him think Edith finds him boring, causing him to break off their relationship. It’s one of the most vicious things she does to her sister, as she knows that may have been Edith’s one shot at happiness.
3MARY’S REACTION TO MICHAEL’S DEATH
Edith and Michael Gregson were actually in love. She was truly looking forward to a happy ending. Sadly, he was killed by Nazis during a return trip to Germany, and Edith was left alone again. When news of his passing finally arrived, the family wasn’t exactly in mourning for someone they barely knew.
Mary shows up the next day with a new cute bob, which sets Edith off. She complains about Mary’s hair, as well as a planned picnic, which she won’t be attending. Mary is fine with that saying that Edith, “usually spoils everything.” Would it have killed her to let that one pass without comment?
2EDITH WRITES THE TURKISH AMBASSADOR
Following the mysterious death of Mr. Pamuk, things were settling back to normal at Downton, but Edith couldn’t let Mary get away with her role in the matter, so she wrote a detailed letter to the Turkish ambassador. She knew exactly what she was doing, and the consequences it would have for Mary, and she just didn’t care.
When a loyal friend told Mary who the source of all the gossip was, she confronted Edith, who promptly called her a slut, and things were never the same between the two. To retaliate, Mary ruined Edith’s romance with Anthony Strallan.
1MARY TELLS BERTIE ABOUT MARIGOLD
Mary could never let Edith be happy, while she’s miserable, so after breaking up with Henry, she tells Edith’s fiance Bertie about her illegitimate daughter Marigold, just for spite. Again, she knew exactly what she was doing to Edith, and just didn’t care.
This is the moment where Edith has reached her breaking point with Mary, and finally calls her out. She calls her nasty, jealous and some other things we can’t say. Once Bertie and Edith reconcile, the sisters are able to find a balance as Edith reminds Mary, “because in the end, you’re my sister…our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.”