Lavinia Catherine Swire (1895 - April, 1919) was introduced in Series 2 as Matthew Crawley's fiancée. Lavinia was the only child of a London solicitor, Reginald "Reggie" Swire. She died in April 1919 at Downton Abbey of Spanish flu.
Lavinia's father has built up a practice in his work as a solicitor and ostensibly made himself a rich man; he also presumably taught her to drive. Her mother is long dead and so father and daughter have grown very close in their large and comfortable house in one of Nash's terraces overlooking Regent's Park. She is a London girl, but loves Matthew so fiercely that she would do anything to make him happy.
During her first visit to Downton Abbey, Lavinia is overheard arguing with Sir Richard Carlisle by Lady Rosamund Painswick. Lady Rosamund, wondering what the argument was about, asks Lady Mary Crawley to look into it. Lavinia confesses to Mary that her father owed Sir Richard a large amount of money and was unable to repay him. When Lavinia went to Carlisle to plead on her father's behalf, he made a deal with her: he would forgive her father's debt if she would deliver to him some papers of state in the possession of her uncle, Jonathan Swire, a Liberal minister. She agreed, stole the papers from her uncle and delivered them to Sir Richard. The publication of information in the papers triggered the Marconi scandal. Mary sympathizes with Lavinia because of her own scandalous secret in the matter of the death of Kemal Pamuk, and so Mary decides not to tell anyone in the family about Lavinia's history with Sir Richard.
When Matthew injures his spinal cord during the Battle of Amiens, Dr. Clarkson informs him that he may never walk again, and he realizes this also means he cannot have intercourse with a woman. Despite Lavinia's protests that she still wishes to marry him, Matthew calls off their engagement and tells her not to see him anymore since he cannot be a "true husband" to her and feels she will eventually despise him for the lack.
Worried that with Lavinia out of the way, Mary will fall in love again with Matthew, Sir Richard arranges for Lavinia's return. Lavinia pledges again to take care of Matthew, and he accepts. They revive their plan to marry. Matthew has indeed been growing fond of Mary again, and he surprises everyone by showing signs of recovery from his injury. He intimates to Mary that he loves her but says that he is honour-bound to marry Lavinia. Lavinia overhears this conversation, and shortly afterwards, she becomes one of the victims of the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. (Another notable victim is Lady Grantham, who survives.) Shortly before she died, Daisy made up the fire in the room and she and Lavinia "got talking". Lavinia asked Daisy to post a letter to her father Reggie Swire, which Daisy did, keeping the letter a secret until Mary inquired in Spring 1920. On her deathbed, Lavinia tells Matthew it is better this way, and asks him to be happy for her sake.
At Lavinia's funeral, Matthew is tortured with guilt because he let her die with a broken heart.
In the 2011 Christmas Special Anna Bates and Daisy Mason use a Ouija board which spells out the words; "May they be happy. With my love." It is possible that this is meant to be Lavinia's spirit talking about Mary and Matthew.
- "I can't stop thinking of what I'd do if anything happened to him."
- "No you don't. None of us do. We always say that sort of thing, but we don't know. If he died, I don't think I can go on living."
- "The thing is... I might as well say it: When I came downstairs and you and Mary were dancing, I heard what you said and I saw what you did. No, it's not that I'm in a rage, in a fury. In fact, I think it's noble of you to want to keep your word when things have changed, but I'm not sure if it would be right of me to hold you to it. I've had lots of time to think about it. I love you very, very much. And I've wanted to marry you from the first moment I saw you. That is true, but I didn't really know what I saw taking on. It's not in me to be Queen of the County. I'm a little person; an ordinary person and when I saw you and Mary together, I thought how fine. How right you look together. It isn't a sudden thing. I was starting to worry and when you were wounded I thought it was my calling to look after you and care for you and I don't think Mary would have done that quite as well as me. I do have some self-worth, just not enough to make you marry the wrong person."
- "Isn't it better? You wouldn't have to make a hard decision. Be happy, for my sake."
|Appearances and Mentions|
|Series 2||Episode 1|
|Series 3||Episode 1|
|Episode 4||Episode 5|
|Episode 6||Episode 7||Episode 8||Christmas Special|
- ↑ In Downton Abbey: Series 2 Scripts (Official): Page 545 Julian Fellowes' notes read as "The new gravestone reads: Lavinia Catherine Swire, 1895 - 1919, beloved daughter of Reginald and Anne Swire, 'I will turn their mourning into joy'." By this, we learn that Lavinia's mother was called Anne.|In Downton Abbey: Series 2 Scripts (Official): Page 545] Julian Fellowes' notes read as "The new gravestone reads: Lavinia Catherine Swire, 1895 - 1919, beloved daughter of Reginald and Anne Swire, 'I will turn their mourning into joy'." By this, we learn that Lavinia's mother was called Anne.
- ↑ Matthew and Lavinia's wedding is stated as being in April; Episode 2.08 starts in April 1919 as shown with the opening credits. It is 3 days before the wedding, as mentioned 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.
- ↑ Her gravestone, seen in the Christmas Special when Matthew places her father's ashes onto her grave, confirms her middle name, birthdate and death date. This picture shows Lavinia's name, birthdate and deathdate.
- ↑ In Episode 2.1 Isobel states that Mary and Matthew won't meet on the train because Matthew is "driving down in Lavinia's car", so Lavinia, as proven by Isobel's statement, can drive.