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Welcome fellow Downton Abbey fans! If you love the intrigue, drama and humor of life’s relationships portrayed in the popular TV series, and if you are curious about the law, this book is for you. It explores the intersection of Downton Abbey’s characters and the law of our society. You may have seen all the episodes, perhaps more than once, and not realized that the story lines touch upon many legal principles. Or you may have identified legal matters in the show but never knew if they were true-to-life. This book will expand your encounter with the Crawleys and everyone in their world, and also your horizons by teaching you the law using the world of Downton Abbey as our guide.

For a society to function orderly and for people to live together without chaos, there must be laws and rules for people to follow. Thus, law is a critical component for any civilized society including ours and that of Downton Abbey. This book uses the twists and turns in the experiences of our favorite, and some not-so-favorite, characters as case examples to illustrate legal principles.     

How to Use This Book

This book contains seven sections, six of which cover a major category of law and consist of numerous chapters that each address that area of law. The chapters include the following components.

    The titles identify the issue of law discussed in each chapter, and also the main Downton Abbey character portrayed in the relevant vignette.
    This section contains Downton Abbey story sketches relevant to the particular law addressed in the chapter. “DA” refers to Downton Abbey.
  • US LAW
    This feature provides easily understood explanations of the law of the United States.
    This part discusses the US law’s application to the show’s characters and storylines. This information eases the learning process by involving plots and characters that fascinate us all.

The seventh section occurs at the end of the book and consists of five Appendices that provide detailed information regarding some of the terms and laws discussed throughout the chapters.

One of the exciting, yet confounding, characteristics of the law is that it frequently changes. Legislators pass new statutes, and judges interpret the rules with new insights. The law discussed in this book relates to the law in effect as of the time of publication.

Whenever a legal term is used, it is printed in italics and a definition follows. This book is a legalese-free zone.

For ease of reading, we have used the pronoun “he” throughout the book in lieu of the somewhat awkward alternatives of “he or she” or “s/he”. Ideally, a pronoun referring to one person would exist that is gender-neutral, but such is not the case. So please know that our use of “he” is intended, like the law, to be all inclusive.

So come extend your encounter with the popular television series and add an additional dimension to your fondness for the Crawleys and their servants – lessons in law from the life and times of the residents of Downton Abbey. Enjoy!

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