Lady Sybil Branson
Youngest daughter of Robert and Cora Crawley, Lord and Lady Grantham. Married to Tom Branson, former chauffeur to the Crawleys
Played by Jessica Brown Findlay
Qualities: strong-willed, purposeful, magnanimous, kind, giving
The youngest Crawley daughter was also the most at odds with her aristocratic station. Early on, Sybil showed her rebellious nature cloaked in a sweet countenance. Wearing harem pants to dinner was a start. Her family’s wealth and nobility didn’t mean nearly as much to her as finding her own, unique voice and carving out a place for herself in a rapidly advancing world. A liberal-minded young lady in a conservative household had to shock to be noticed and Sybil did just that when she risked her safety to attend a raucous counting of the vote in Season 1.
Perhaps Sybil’s own rebellious streak is what drew her to Downton’s new, politically motivated Irish chauffeur, Tom Branson, although she would never let him detect that attraction to begin with. Tom was in hot pursuit of his employer’s daughter when World War I tore Sybil’s attention away. Always with the urge to help others, Sybil again rocked family convention and trained to be a nurse, keeping herself busy and just far enough out of Branson’s reach. As the war ended, Sybil’s new life began with her acceptance of her feelings for Tom. Marrying the Irish rebel was her ticket out of the aristocratic life she rejected and into another life, while full of love, not without its struggles.
In Season 3, Sybil and Tom were brought back into the Crawley family fold to celebrate a wedding and the impending birth of their first child. With widely differing ideals and influences all back under the same roof again, Sybil struggled to create harmony between her old and new worlds. Her life was cut tragically short, however, when the birth of her daughter triggered a rare reaction, leaving behind a family, and husband, stricken with grief and divided in the wake of the loss.
SYBIL: “No one ever learned anything from a governess except for French, and how to curtsy.”