Portraits: The Wives of the Marquess of Northampton

When in doubt–don’t post a portrait of an unknown noble in the place for someone who has no known portrait. I have noticed that certain blogs have taken unknown portraits of Tudor women and used them as an example for their blog. What’s wrong with this? Well thanks to PinInterest and other sites, people come by web pages and snatch the portraits without properly identifying them. I should know, it’s happened to me several times. And due to this..there is a circulation of one portrait for a certain relation of Queen Katherine Parr who in fact has no known portrait. What’s worse is the woman in the painting is pregnant when we know there were no children by her husband, but rather by her lover.

Unknown Woman by Gower, 1578 is NOT Anne Bourchier.
Unknown Woman by Gower, 1578 is NOT Anne Bourchier.

So let’s get this straight. Wives 1, “2”, and 3. Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Kendal, Earl of Essex, and eventually 1st Marquess of Northampton had three wives. Only two are known to have legit portraits. That’s William’s common law wife, Elisabeth Brooke, whom he wasn’t technically allowed to marry due to the fact that he could not get a divorce from his first wife, Lady Anne Bourchier who had left him for her lover. William could only file for an Act of Parliament to keep any illegitimate offspring of Anne and her lover from inheriting from him. This, he was granted during Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I’s reign. In the reign of Mary I, however, Parr had to endure his wife after being thrown in the Tower for trying to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne. People think that Lady Anne saved Parr’s life — honestly, she was only after money and property. Queen Mary finally relented however and let him go free but without his titles, etc.

Back to the portraiture — Elisabeth Brooke and his third wife, Helena were painted.

Elisabeth Brooke, Lady Northampton from the family portrait of the Brooke family.
Elisabeth Brooke, Lady Northampton from the family portrait of the Brooke family.

Elisabeth Brooke’s portrait is from a larger portrait of her family. There is also a coin issued for her.

The Brooke Family of Elisabeth Brooke.
The Brooke Family of Elisabeth Brooke.

The portrait of Helena — there are thought to possibly be two.

Thought to be Helena, Marchioness of Northampton
Helena, Marchioness of Northampton c.1603
Helena, Marchioness of Northampton c.1603

Author: tudorqueen6

Meg McGath is the author behind the articles on tudorqueen6; she has been studying the history and genealogy of the Parr family since 2007. Now, a decade later, she is still writing about her favorite Tudor queen, Kateryn Parr. Meg studied Women's Studies with an emphasis on English Women's History at the University of Maryland. One of her goals is to end the myth that Kateryn Parr was nothing more than a nursemaid to the aging King Henry VIII. "It simply isn't true, she did so much more for the Royal Family and her country," says Meg. And, of course, to educate Tudor enthusiasts on the prestigious lineage and connections of the Parr family. "Kateryn was related to everyone at court by blood or marriage. She was a descendant of the Beaufort line of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, and Katherine Swynford. She shared this line with two of her husbands, Lord Latimer and the King," Meg states. A book is always her end game with Parr, but Meg has yet to put all the information together and send it to a publisher. "I've been told by many, including Professors, that I am a good writer..." says Meg. "The book, would focus on the generations before the Queen and how the Parr family became courtiers and relatives of The Crown." Meg has also done extensive research on the massive jewels and tiara collection of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty's collection was built starting with Queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenberg, wife of King George III, and grandmother of Queen Victoria. Meg is now putting together a separate blog that coincides with her Tudor Wiki contributions which started in 2007.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s