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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.

Snakenborg,Helena(MNorthampton)

Thought to be Helena, Marchioness of Northampton

Helena, Marchioness of Northampton c.1603

Helena, Marchioness of Northampton c.1603

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About tudorqueen6 (136 Articles)
I have been studying the genealogy and the history of the Parr family since 2007. I studied Women's Studies with an emphasis on English Women's History at the University of Maryland. My goal is to educate those who love Tudor History and to push aside the never ending myth that Queen Katherine Parr was nothing more than a nursemaid to King Henry VIII. I am planning on writing a book specifically on the family genealogy and relations which made Queen Katherine an important woman in her own right -- even before her own birth.

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