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Downton Abbey and the Law

February 2, 2015

As any Downton Abbey fan knows, the popular show includes lots of plot twists and turns based on British law in the early 20th Century.  A male only entail that tied up the title and the estate created the first dramatic crisis for the Earl of Grantham, when the Earl and his wife learn that his heir perished along with his son on the ill-fated Titanic.  Without a male heir, the estate and the title would be no more as Lord Robert’s daughters were not eligible to inherit.  The family turned to Matthew Crawley, a male third cousin once-removed, who fittingly was a solicitor.

Just as this season hits its mid-point on PBS, our first floor Downton Abbey display takes a closer look at some of the legal issues that were central to the last four seasons, including the entail and death taxes.  (Unfortunately, Mr. Bates’ legal woes are just too big for our display case!  Tune in to find out more about Mr. Bates and his trials and tribulations.)  Included in our display is the text from the recent bill before the British Parliament to end male only primogeniture for aristocratic titles, how death taxes would have affected the estate after Matthew’s death, and some fun quotes from our favorite Downton Abbey characters.

Be sure to stop by before this season ends!

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