Downton Abbey: Who Was Edith’s Best Love Interest?

Though Edith often played second fiddle to Lady Mary, the middle Crawley daughter still had her fair share of suitors in Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith Crawley often played second fiddle to her older sister, Lady Mary. Mary’s firstborn status in an aristocratic family certainly made her more attractive to suitors, but Edith didn’t help her situation by coming off as desperate, dour and self-pitying. However, throughout Downton Abbey’s run, Edith was still courted by her fair share of gentleman callers. As was also the case with Mary’s love life, they weren’t all perfect gentlemen, and some met tragic ends. In contrast, some gave Lady Edith the confidence to grow into herself and become the strong, outspoken woman she was meant to be. These are Lady Edith’s love interests, ranked from most problematic to most promising.

Patrick Gordon

Whether the mysterious man who arrived at Downton with his face and hands wrapped in bandages was really Patrick Gordon or Patrick Crawley technically remains unresolved. Regardless, Patrick won Edith over with what appeared to be first-hand knowledge of their prior relationship and by doting on her instead of Mary or Sybil. If he was genuine and stayed, he would’ve inherited Downton and significantly elevated Edith’s status.

Judging from their brief interactions, they may have had a happy life together. However, Patrick left without saying goodbye and signed his final letter to Edith as “PG,” implying that he wasn’t actually who he claimed to be. In the end, this potential love match was probably a fraudster looking for a title and a fortune at gullible Edith’s expense.

Anthony Strallan

While Lady Mary courted multiple suitors, including the older, dashing (and deceitful) Sir Richard Carlisle, Lady Edith spent the better part of two seasons flirting with Sir Anthony Strallan, who also made his initial advances toward Mary. Stallan was the neighbor (by the standards of the landed gentry) and family friend of the Crawleys. He was a widower and a nice man who would’ve made an acceptable match for Edith if he wasn’t, as Lord Grantham puts it, as dull as paint and more in need of a nurse than a wife.

He planned to propose to Edith at the end of Downton Abbey Season 1, but Mary thwarted the engagement by indicating that Edith thought he was a bore. It was a cruel act, typical of Mary and Edith’s frequently toxic sister relationship, but it ultimately turned out to be a kindness. When Edith actively pursued Sir Anthony later on, he left her at the altar, which was also a blessing disguise as he recognized that she wouldn’t be truly happy with him, though it devastated her at the time.

John Drake

The audience met John Drake in Season 1 when he was hospitalized with a heart condition and saved by the newly arrived Isobel Crawley’s medical expertise. In Season 2, Edith volunteered to drive a tractor for the family who worked as tenant farmers on the estate with the men away at war. Although Mr. Drake had a wife and a litter of children, he and Edith quickly fell for each other as they spent time on the farm.

John was likely enchanted by Lady Edith, who was above his station. However, he was also one of the first men who saw her for who she was and appreciated her beauty, brains and work ethic. They shared a kiss witnessed by Mrs. Drake, which brought their affair and her employment to an abrupt end. Though Edith was a homewrecker in this situation, the experience showed her that she was deserving of real passion.

Bertie Pelham

The unassuming and admittedly not-very-ambitious Bertie Pelham became infatuated with Lady Edith in Downton Abbey‘s Season 5 Christmas Special. He was a Marquess, making him one of the most honorable and noble men Edith had a chance to be with. The problem was, she was passing off her daughter as her ward and was afraid to tell sweet Bertie the truth about Marigold.

Again, Mary interfered, forcing Edith to spill the beans. Bertie decided not to propose, not because of Marigold but because of Edith’s dishonesty. However, things work out in the end. Though his mother initially disapproved of Edith, she and Bertie couldn’t stand to stay apart from each other. They married in the Season 6 Christmas Special, making Lady Edith Pelham the highest-ranking member of her family.

Michael Gregson

Though Edith ended up in an advantageous marriage, her best match was with her intellectual equal, Michael Gregson. Their relationship started as a professional one when he offered Edith a regular column in his magazine after reading her article about women’s rights. Before he showed any romantic interest, Michael encouraged Edith to build her confidence and speak her mind.

Though he was obviously smitten with her on an academic, emotional and physical level, he assumed their love couldn’t be. He was married, albeit to a woman whose mental faculties were “gone.” Still, they couldn’t help flirting, and their strong friendship developed into a mutually respectful romantic partnership — one that resulted in their daughter, Marigold. Their bond was so strong that, even though he was not a man with a title or an inheritance, her family largely gave Michael their blessing. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Michael Gregson went missing while in Germany to secure a divorce and was later discovered murdered by suspected Nazis. Sadly, he died without ever having met his child.

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