Downton Abbey Wiki
Downton Abbey Wiki
Grantham Arms

The impaled arms of The Sixth Earl of Grantham and his wife, The Dowager Countess Violet.

Earl of Grantham is a fictional title in the peerage[1] of Great Britain.[2] As of 1920, the current holder of the title is Robert Crawley. The Earl is addressed as "Lord Grantham" and the Countess as "Lady Grantham". The seat of the Earls of Grantham is Downton Abbey in Downton, Yorkshire. Their London residence in St. James's Square is Grantham House. Since the marriage of the eldest son of the Third Earl, the Earls of Grantham have owned Downton Place on the border with Durham in Eryholme, which came with his wife.

The peerage was created in 1772.[3]

The courtesy title of the heir apparent is Lord Downton; Viscount Downton is one of the Earl of Grantham's subsidiary titles[4] and has not been used since sometime during the 1890s. The heir presumptive would not have a title.

Robert's father established an entail after his son married wealthy American heiress Cora Levinson, which determined that the title, estate, and Cora's fortune would all be tied together and inherited by either the present Earl's heir apparent (which would be his eldest living son), or heir presumptive (the eldest live male descendant who is the most senior among the children of previous earls).

Because Robert and Cora had no sons, Robert's first cousin, James, stood to inherit, followed by his only son, Patrick. When they both died on the RMS Titanic, the heir presumptive became Robert's third cousin once removed, Matthew Crawley, who is descended from the third Earl of Grantham. Later Cora became pregnant but miscarried due to an accident caused by her maid, Sarah O'Brien. The child was confirmed to have been a boy, meaning had he lived, he would have surpassed Matthew and been heir apparent.

Matthew married Robert and Cora's eldest daughter, Lady Mary, with whom he had a son, George Crawley. George became heir presumptive to the earldom only hours after his birth, when his father was killed in a car accident. Providing Robert has no other legitimate sons, and George does not predecese him, George will succeed his grandfather as the next Earl of Grantham. 

Coat of Arms[]

The coat of arms of the Earl of Grantham, combined with the arms of Violet Crawley's family, is blazoned as follows:

Azure, a chevron Or between three lion's heads caboshed Or langued Gules. Impaled with a shield quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules a lion rampant Or langued Gules, 2nd and 3rd Or a bend Gules between two cross crosslets fitchy Sable.

Earl Number Controversy[]

Through series four there remains conflicting information as to exactly which Earldom, ordinally, is held by Robert. The book The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era indicates that Robert is the seventh Earl of Grantham. This would agree generationally, as it is known that Robert and Reginald Crawley, father of Matthew Crawley, are third cousins, and Reginald descends from a younger son of the third Earl. In agreement, Violet refers to Robert's father, in Episode 6.06, as the Sixth Earl, backing up the book.

However, there is conflicting evidence; Sybil's grave, first released in a picture and not believed canon until Series 6, stated that she was the "Third Daughter of the Fifth Earl of Grantham". As well as this, in the same season and episode that made the grave canon - Episode 6.08 - Bertie Pelham refers to Edith as the daughter of the fifth Earl as well.

If Violet is correct, then there are no other problems presented. However, if both Bertie and Sybil's grave are correct, then it presents the problem that, if Robert is the 5th Earl, his father was then the 4th, so it must be explained as to how the title skipped two generations to get back to the third Earl who is stated to be the ancestor that Matthew and Robert share -- Matthew's "great-great grandfather was the younger son of the third Earl".


  • The 3rd Earl of Grantham nearly went bankrupt and the 4th only saved Downton by dying[5].
  • Even though George is Robert's grandson, he is still heir presumptive rather than heir apparent since he can still hypothetically be displaced by a son of Robert and Cora, or, if Robert were to remarry for some reason, a son of his by his other wife.

List of Earls of Grantham[]

  • 1st Earl of Grantham - Original holder of the title.
  • 2nd Earl of Grantham - Son or grandson of the 1st Earl[6]
  • 3rd Earl of Grantham - Son of the 2nd Earl.
    • For the relationship between Robert and Matthew to be correct - namely "third cousins once removed" - the 3rd Earl must have survived his son and grandson for Robert to be the 5th Earl and for the relationship to be correct.
      • The eldest son of the 3rd Earl is Robert's ancestor and his wife is the woman who owned Downton Place, while the second son of the Third Earl is Matthew's "great-great-grandfather".
  • 4th Earl of Grantham - There was at least a 4th Earl, but whether the 4th Earl was Robert's father is yet to be determined.
  • 5th & 6th Earls of Grantham - If Robert is the 7th Earl, then there would be a 5th and 6th, with his father as the 6th.
  • Robert Crawley, current holder of the title.

List of Earls wives styled as 'Countess of Grantham'.[]

  • Violet Crawley - Robert's mother. She was known as Countess of Grantham until her husband died. As she did not hold the Earldom it passed to Robert and Cora became the Countess.
  • Cora Crawley - Current Countess of Grantham.
    • Due to Matthew's death and the birth of her son, Mary will not become Countess of Grantham, as she cannot succeed to a peerage which simply does not descend through females. Theoretically, however, upon the succession of her son as the Earl of Grantham and the death of her mother, Mary could petition His/Her Majesty for a Warrant of Precedence granting her the title of The Dowager Countess of Grantham as though Matthew Crawley indeed succeeded.


  1. Peerage system of the United Kingdom
  2. According to Wikipedia, the Peerage of Great Britain includes all peerages created between 1707 and 1801
  3. The Series 1 press pack confirms that the peerage was granted to the Crawley family in 1772.
  4. The press pack confirms that, when Robert and Cora married in 1889, Robert was known as Viscount Downton:File:Press_Pack_2.jpg
  5. Episode 3.07
  6. He has to be the eldest son (or his eldest male descendant) of the 1st Earl as the first Earl was granted the title of Earl of Grantham and it is his descendants that would be able to inherit the title. If the Earl's eldest son (heir apparent) dies during his father's lifetime, having had a legitimate son of his own, the title would pass to his eldest son, bypassing younger sons of the Earl. It is possible for grandsons to inherit from their grandfather, just as George becomes the heir presumptive after the death of his father, Matthew.