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Vera's a greedy woman; she won't refuse what I can offer her.
John Bates[src]

Vera Bates (d. 10./11. November 1918) was the estranged wife of John Bates.


Vera knew John Bates since childhood, and they married young and had an extremely unhappy marriage. In between May 31st, 1902 and April 15th, 1912, her husband admitted to a regimental-silver theft that Vera committed at the barracks. As a consequence, her husband went to prison for two years.

Using her husband's name, she obtains a service post in the household of the Hugh MacClare, the Marquess of Flintshire as Susan MacClare, the Marchioness of Flintshire is the cousin of the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley. The Marchioness' lady's maid blithely tells Vera about Lady Mary Crawley's liaison with the Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk.



Shortly before her mother-in-law's death, Vera arrived at her house. After learning her husband has a larger then expected inheritance after his mother's death, she arrives at Downton Abbey. She asks for large amounts of money, refusing a divorce so he cannot marry fellow servant Anna Smith and blackmails him, threatening to expose Lady Mary's secret. She also wants her husband to give notice and come back to her since she has tried living on her own and does not like it. Bates returns to London with her to live in his mother's home but soon separates after learning that she has been unfaithful to him. Eventually he returns to working as Robert's valet and Anna and they rekindle their romance. In order to keep Vera quiet about Kemal Pamuk and Mary Crawley, her husband bribes her for a divorce, which she reluctantly accepts. Sarah O'Brien, always in opposition to Bates, writes to Vera to tell her where he is and about Bates romantic relationship with Anna.

Tremendously furious, she travels to Downton to tell her former husband that she did not give him permission to return to Downton, much less restore his relationship with housemaid Anna. This is the last straw for Vera. She decides that she is going to sell Lady Mary's scandalous secret regardless. In despair, Anna and Lady Mary decide that the latter will have to ask Mary's fiancée Sir Richard Carlisle to stop Vera's greedy and heartless plot. Carlisle summons Vera to his office, and forces Vera into silence regarding any incident about Lady Mary (including the Pamuk scandal). As Carlisle offers her a large about of money, she hastily accepts Carlisle's terms, only to return next morning to find that Carlisle had no intention of publishing the story of Mr Pamuk and Lady Mary. She leaves in a huff as she realizes that she was tricked and silenced, but not before telling Carlisle that ruin was not over for her husband. Carlisle later telephones Lady Mary regarding Vera's threat to her husband.

Keeping her word about ruining her husband, she tells the judge in her divorce case that she was bribed to consent to the divorce and the judge voids the divorce decree, meaning Vera and John are still legally married. John goes to London to confront her and returns to Downton with a large scratch on his face telling Anna that their meeting went terribly. The next day, Vera visits her friend Audrey Bartlett, and the latter describes Vera as being "scared for her life" because her husband had sent an angry letter and threatened to "visit" her.

Death and aftermath[]

Not long after her visit to Mrs Bartlett, Vera is found dead due to ingesting rat poison that she placed in a pie she cooked herself.

After a five-month investigation, the police are convinced that her husband murdered her and he is convicted and sentenced to death, before the sentence is commuted to one of life in prison.

Bates and Anna later discover that when Vera committed suicide, she knew that consequence it would have on her husband, so she did it out of revenge and spite of her husband.


Vera was a very selfish and greedy woman. Because of this she used to look apathic, mad, unstable and cold with everyone, having very few friends. She took advantage of her husband's name to always get what she wanted and often manipulated him to ensure he didn't leave her. She was also extremely possesive with Bates, refusing to allow him start a new life despite how unhappy they were together. Vera was cruel, calling Anna a "floozy". Ultimately, feeling that she wouldn't win Bates again, she chose to destroy any possibility for him and Anna to be happy, so she killed herself and prepared everything so Bates was accused of murder and sentenced to death.


Appearances and Mentions
Series 1 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5
Episode 6 Episode 7
Series 2 Episode 1
Episode 2 Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8
Christmas Special
Series 3 Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4 Episode 5
Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special
Series 5 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6
Episode 7 Episode 8 Christmas Special


  • Vera had been ingesting Arsenic for a long time before her death: Vera's state of mind being described as "paranoid yet determined" and the "scrubbing of her fingers" both confirm this - Arsenic, over a long period of time, changes the pigmentation of your fingernails. The strongest point to back up the case for Vera having ingested Arsenic for a long time is when Mrs Bartlett says that Vera was described as "wearing a halo" - Arsenic, after it has had time to get into the lungs, makes the person's breath fluorescent, which is where the halo - made from Vera's breath - would have come from.


  1. Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts, Season Two: Episode 1. Page 49. The script states that Vera is "in her thirties." Episode 2.01 takes place between July and November 1916, so if Vera was born in 1876, she still had between six weeks and five months to turn 40. If Vera was born in 1886, she would be thirty.