Where do you belong, upstairs or down?
Family history experts have revealed the real-life ancestry of several of the biggest stars of the hit TV show Downton Abbey. The findings indicate that
• In real life Elizabeth McGovern’s family would much more likely be “upstairs” dining with the Crawleys than would fellow actress Sophie McShera. Not only was McGovern’s grandfather Lieutenant Commander Ethelbert Watts a well-respected Naval Intelligence Officer in WWII, but her great-grandfather Charles Jenkins Montgomery is listed in the 1920 U.S. Census as a doctor.
• In contrast, Sophie McShera’s family history shows that she would probably be more comfortable “downstairs.” Just like loveable Daisy Mason in the show, Sophie’s great-grandmother Annie Henderson Corsbie was employed as a cook according to her marriage certificate.
• While Daisy marries WWI hero William Mason in the show, Sophie’s 2nd great-grandfather Francis Henry Corsbie was a member of the Durham Light Infantry and won three campaign medals for his own service during the Great War.
The research also reveals similarities involving the following stars:
• Hugh Bonneville – The man behind Lord Grantham appears to have the noble lifestyle runs in his genes, given that his 4th great-grandfather was listed on his son’s marriage record as a “gentleman” living in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
• Lily James – Portraying Lady Rose McClare in Downton and ordering the servants around should be familiar to Lily James. Her 2nd great-grandfather was a U.S. lawyer and her 3rd great-grandfather a wealthy landowner, both of whom had servants.
• Brendan Coyle – Coyle depicts John Bates, one of the “downstairs” staff at Downton Abbey who served in the Boer War. Coyle’s own great-grandfather Alexander Busby served and was killed in action in WWI in 1917. If the name Busby rings a bell, that’s because Coyle is actually great-nephew of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby.