10 APRIL 1635: THE DEATH of Helena, the Dowager Marchioness of Northampton (c.1549-10 April 1635) was the daughter of Ulf or Wulfgang Henriksson Snakenborg or Snachenberg of Ostargotland (d.c.1565) and Agneta Knuttson (d.1568+).
She came as a maid-in-waiting to Princess Cecilia of Sweden on a state visit in the autumn of 1565 and stayed on when Cecilia left in May 1566. She was being courted by Sir William Parr, Marquess of Northampton who had asked her to marry him. Queen Elizabeth stepped in, taking Helena into her keeping at court, as a maid of honor. Helena was given private quarters at Hampton Court Palace. Later she was a gentlewoman of the privy chamber, although without pay. Helena and Parr finally married in May 1571, after the death of his first wife, from whom he had been separated (and annulled) for decades. The Queen attended the wedding which took place in the queen’s closet at Whitehall Palace with pomp and circumstance. The Marquess died soon after, leaving Helena a wealthy widow and, as Dowager Marchioness of Northampton, senior to every other lady at court save the queen and the queen’s cousin, Lady Margaret Douglas.
Around 1577 she remarried, taking as her second husband Thomas (later knt.) Gorges. Helena was a patron of the arts, rebuilt Langford Castle in Wiltshire, and was chief mourner at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth Tudor. She was buried at Salisbury Cathedral where an effigy is still present.
- British School 16th Century: A Young Lady Aged 21, Possibly Helena Snakenborg, Later Marchioness of Northampton 1569, Tate Museum, London.