Family of Queen Katherine: The White Princess

 

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It took me until the season finale to get to writing about the relations in the series. I won’t deny, I was thinking of not even watching. After The White Queen, I was repulsed. Ok, so there are NO other shows that feature this time period–with such depth. Surprisingly, I fell in love with this series. Why? Actors were better and the clothing of Queen Elizabeth was gorgeous! Big thank you to the costume designers and hair dressers! BRAVO!

So, why am I doing an article on Katherine Parr in relation to those historical figures featured in The White Princess? Because the Parr family was there at court. They were ALWAYS there. Why are they not featured? I honestly have no idea. It’s a pity that these shows don’t weave in connections to the future Queens of England. We know that the Boleyn, Seymour, and Howards were present. The Howards are the easiest to track. The Boleyn family starts to come around with the Howards eventually. And the Seymours? They are also around, somewhere.

The Parr family, however, were courtiers to the Crown since the 1300s.

In the reign of Henry Tudor, the Parrs’ were quite close to the crown on both the side of Henry AND Elizabeth. Sir William Parr had died shortly after the coronation of King Richard III and Queen Anne. His widow, Lady Elizabeth (born FitzHugh), had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne as Duchess and Queen. She was part of the coronation and witnessed her niece and cousin being crowned. After the death of her first husband, Lord Parr, Elizabeth would marry again to a very close ally of the Lancastrians/King Henry. His name was Sir Nicholas Vaux. He was the son of Lancastrian sympathizers. His mother was a lady to Queen Margaret of Anjou and was with her in exile. Lady Margaret Beaufort was close to Parr’s step-father, Sir Nicholas Vaux, who had been educated in her household. Parr is also believed to have spent some time in her household and may have been educated there as well. That wouldn’t be completely absurd seeing how close Margaret was to the Vaux family.

Katherine’s father, Sir Thomas Parr, was a close friend of King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas was present at court and was in the circle of Henry VIII which included Sir Thomas Boleyn. Both were knighted in 1509 at Henry’s coronation; Parr was also made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Sheriff of Northamptonshire on that occasion. Parr became Master of the Wards and Comptroller of the household of Henry VIII. Parr’s brother, William [later Baron Parr of Horton], was also a part of the King’s circle. They kept company with the Staffords and their cousins, the Nevilles. They were also friend’s with the Carews and Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn. In 1515, Parr was entrusted with escorting Queen Margaret of Scotland [the king’s elder sister] from Newcastle back to London.

As for Elizabeth of York’s connection to Katherine Parr, we have it on both sides. One comes from her father’s royal blood and the other comes from a Woodville connection that connects her mother to one of Elizabeth Woodville’s relatives. Lady Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) was a lady to Queen Elizabeth Woodville. When Elizabeth became queen to Edward IV, she brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her. Lady Fogge, was one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, in the 1460s.

More Info On Queen Katherine’s Ancestry: Here

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Prayers of Queen Katherine Parr by the Princess Elizabeth, 1545

For Christmas, 1545, Princess Elizabeth was determined to give her stepmother and father something that would please them both. Elizabeth decided to take the published book by the new Queen, Prayers and Meditations, and transcribe it into Latin, French, and Italian. Elizabeth presented the gift at Christmas only to find her father irritated and annoyed. At the time, Elizabeth was barely twelve. For any person to perform such a feat at such a young age and embroider her own book cover–mind blowing. However, her father thought it was some sort of joke and seemed to be somewhat jealous of his wife. Why? One can only imagine what Henry was thinking. Knowing his temper, Henry was probably upset that Elizabeth had not translated one of his works into some lavish Latin based language — note: Henry never had a book published. Instead, Henry had yet another wife who aspired to be a great woman. Like Katherine of Aragon, Parr was highly educated. Her mother, the widowed Lady Maud Parr, who was close to Queen Katherine (of Aragon), was a mother of her time. As Princess Mary was being educated and taught to someday perhaps succeed her father, Lady Maud took note and used the same system Thomas More used, to educate his daughters. Queen Katherine Parr was given an enviable education which was only afforded to royals and top nobility. One of the top Tudor biographers, Dr. Starkey, has gone as far as saying that Parr was the most educated of all six wives. In the end, Parr would publish two books and her poems/prayers would be added to Prayer books later on.

Prayer Book of Princess Elizabeth (1545)
Embroidered back cover of the trilingual translation by Elizabeth I. Parr’s monogram is in the centre. (Wikipedia)

Another manuscript beautifully written by the Princess Elizabeth about a year later is now at the British Museum. It is on vellum, and contains prayers or meditations, composed originally by Queen Katherine Parr in English, and translated by the Princess into Latin, French, and Italian. The title as given in the book reads, ‘Precationes … ex piis scriptoribus per nobiliss. et pientiss. D. Catharinam Anglie, Francie, Hibernieq. reginam collecte, et per D. Elizabetam ex anglico converse.’ It is, moreover, dedicated to Henry viii., the wording being, ‘Illustrissimo Henrico octavo, Anglie, Francie, Hibernieq. regi,’ etc., and dated Hertford, 20th December 1545.

It is bound in canvas, and measures 5¾ by 4 inches, the groundwork being broadly worked in tapestry-stitch, or some stitch analogous to it, in red silk, resembling in method the work on the ground of The Miroir of the Synneful Soul already described. On this, in the centre of each side, is a large monogram worked in blue silk, interwoven with silver thread, containing the letters K, probably standing for Katherine, A, F, H, and R, possibly meaning ‘Anglie, Francie, Hibernieque, Reginæ,’ but like most monograms this one can doubtless be otherwise interpreted. Above and below the monogram are smaller H’s, worked in red silk, interwoven with gold thread. In each corner is a heartsease of yellow and purple silk, interwoven with gold thread, and having small green leaves between each of the petals. The work which was once on the back is now so worn that it cannot be traced sufficiently to tell what it originally was. The designs of these two volumes, credited to the Princess Elizabeth, resemble each other to some extent; they both have a monogram in the centre, they both have heartsease in the corners and groundwork of a like character. They are, as far as workmanship goes, still more alike, similar thick silk is used for the ground, and threads and braids of a thick nature, with metal interwoven, are used on both for the ornamental work. Speaking of this British Museum book, the Countess of Wilton says, ‘there is little doubt that Elizabeth’s own needle wrought the ornaments thereon.’

Source: English Embroidered Bookbindings by Cyril James Humphries Davenport. Alfred Pollard Release, January 23, 2006 [EBook #17585]. pg 34-35.

Bogus Family Lines: Mrs Anne Dorsey

The never ending problem of amateur genealogists trying to link their kin back to a royal…this story has been debunked several times. As I have Anne ______ Dorsey as an ancestress who married the immigrant Edward Dorsey of Hockley, I have been studying the lines and claims to Anne’s supposed descent from Lady Margaret Douglas, the daughter of a Queen of Scotland, and niece to King Henry VIII of England. As my site deals with Queen Katherine Parr–sixth and last wife of Henry, Lady Margaret features largely in Parr’s life as Queen. Katherine’s own father, Lord Thomas, was part of her escorts early on. Katherine and Margaret would have known each other from early on, in the 1520s. And when Katherine married King Henry in 1543, Margaret was present. Afterward, Margaret became a chief lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

Lady Margaret was born to the elder sister of Henry, Princess Margaret. Margaret became the Queen of Scots, but would remarry after the death of King James. That’s where Margaret comes from; Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. However, through her mother, Queen Margaret, she had a claim to the throne–Henry refused to acknowledge the Scottish line in favor of his younger sister, Princess Mary’s lineage. Even so, Margaret would have been kept under constant scrutiny as a possible heiress one day to the throne. Those who are close to the throne–their recorded history tends to be thorough, especially when it comes to children.

A child with Thomas Howard would have been illegitimate and may have caused Lady Margaret her life for committing treason against the King. Like I said, possible heiresses were closely watched. In fact, due to this secret “engagement” to an uncle of the disgraced Queen Anne (Boleyn) in 1536, a new rule was established–no Royal family member could marry without the permission of the sovereign. This rule would be broken several times after the death of King Henry, especially with Queen Elizabeth’s ladies.

Thomas and Margaret were thrown in the Tower. Henry eventually relented with his niece, but Thomas never saw Margaret again. There is no mention of a pregnancy or a possible child from this match–and seeing how brutal Tudor life was–if there had been a child, it either would have been given away or aborted (after birth). So, even the pregnancy of Margaret could be debated. There are no written statements in the historical account of Margaret which state, perhaps she moved away from court to have the child, and there are no statements from courtiers and the Queens she served that talk of a pregnancy (which was extremely hard to hide). So, the argument for a Robert Howard is BOGUS when you review the historic record of Margaret’s life.

As for the lineage of Mrs. Anne Dorsey, we have yet to learn where she came from and who her parents were. However, we DO have documentation that her daughter by Edward, Sarah, married a Matthew Howard. On FindAGrave, however, we see that this Matthew Howard is linked to the parents Matthew and Anne Hall; the same parents linked to Sarah’s mother, Anne. With this connection, Sarah would be marrying her own uncle! And that consanguinity was not common among courtiers–maybe with the Habsburg dynasty–but not with these immigrants.

Sarah Dorsey and Matthew Howard (Jr) were not related that we know of. In fact, it may well be, as stated in some books, that Matthew’s surname was not Howard, but Hayward. In “The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland” by Joshua Dorsey Warfield, the chapter on the Howard family states:

“An early certificate in the Land Office at Annapolis reads, “Laid out July 3rd 1650 for Matthew Howard on the Severn southside near a creek called Marsh’s beginning at a hollow called Howard’s Hollow and binding on said creek a tract containing 350 acres also another tract running with Howard’s swamp containing 350 acres more.” These surveys of Lloyd were not patented. This record indicates clearly that Matthew Howard came up with Edward Lloyd in 1650. In support of this, the records of Lower Norfolk County Virginia give us the following history of the Howards of Virginia.

There were three Howards or Haywards among the English members of the Virginia Companies, records Alexander Brown in his First Republic. They were Master John, Rev John, and Sir John Howard, Knight. They contributed in all 112 and 12s. Master John, the historian, was born in Suffolk in 1560, was DCL of Cambridge pleader in ecclesiastical courts was knighted 1619, and an MP in 1621, married Jane Pascal, died in London 1627. His “Life of Edward VI” was published after his death. Rev John Howard was reported in Stiths “History of Virginia” as John Howard, Clerk. He subscribed 37. He was the author of “Strong Helper” in 1614. Sir John Howard subscribed 75. He was the second son of Sir Rowland by his second wife Catherine Smythe. He was knighted at Windsor July 23rd, 1609, was High Sheriff of Kent in 1642. In 1622, a John Howard who had come with Edward Bennett’s first company in 1621 was killed by the Indian massacre of 1622. His plantation formed the border line of the Isle of Wight, Virginia. From some of these Howards members of the Virginia Company descended Matthew Howard a close friend, relative, and neighbor of Edward and Cornelius Lloyd in Virginia; and with the former came to Maryland. Matthew Howard was in Virginia in 1635, as shown by a court record in which he had a suit with Mr Evans. In 1645, he was the executor of the will of Richard Hall, a merchant of Virginia, who in 1610 was one of the Grocers Court of England which contributed 100 toward the plantation in Virginia. Colonel Cornelius Lloyd was a witness to Richard Hall’s will in 1645. The testator’s property was left to Ann, Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Matthew, and Cornelius Howard; children of Matthew and Ann Howard. Philip Howard, the youngest son of Matthew and Ann was evidently not born in 1645 for his name was not included in the list of legatees. But, in 1659, Commander Edward Lloyd surveyed for him after the death of Matthew, the Severn tract of Howard stone, for Philip Howard, Orphan. In 1662, the sons of Matthew Howard came up to the Severn and seated themselves near their father’s surveys. John Samuel and Cornelius Howard all transported a number of settlers and received grants for the same, upon the Severn. They located, adjoining each other, near Round Bay. In 1661, Henry Catlin, one of Edward Lloyd’s commissioners, also of the Nansemond Church, assigned his survey to Matthew Howard Jr., who resurveyed the same with Hopkins Plantation, added into Howard’s Inheritance. In 1662, the five brothers, John, Samuel, Matthew, Cornelius, and Philip had nine hundred acres granted them as brothers.”

With that, we have a considerable amount of possible fathers to Matthew Howard. Do we know which one was his? Still working on it…

The Lives of my Ancestors

Whilst researching a branch of my family I came across an interesting connection relating to my 11x great grandparents Thomas Burlingham (1563 – 1650) and Elizabeth Howard (1579 – 1620) both of Norfolk, England. Many researchers have incorrect dates for this couple which would make them about aged four when they started a family lol. (putting those silly mistakes to the side) the biggest issue with this couple is research that was made in the 1700’s, of which a line of descent made Elizabeth Howard the granddaughter of a Robert Howard of Syon House, London (1537 – 1598). It is claimed that this Robert Howard who married a Phillipa Buxton was the illegitimate son of Lord Thomas Howard (1511 – 1537) and Lady Margaret Douglas, Princess and Countess Lennox, who married in secret in 1536 against the wishes of King Henry VIII. This part of the story is correct, the…

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10 JULY 1543: Archbishop Cranmer’s License for the Marriage of Henry & Kateryn

Marriage Certificate
The actual Marriage Certificate of King Henry VIII and Kateryn Parr. The certificate was on display in 2012 at Hampton Court Palace where they were married on 13 July 1543.

ARCHBISHOP THOMAS CRANMER’S LICENSE FOR THE MARRIAGE OF KING HENRY VIII AND KATHERINE PARR LATIMER, INCLUDING DISPENSATION OF THE REQUIRED PROCLAMATION OF BANNS, JULY, 10, 1543

To the most excellent and most invincible prince on a throne, and our supreme lord Henry VIII, by the Grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and on earth Supreme Head, under Christ, of the Churches of England and Ireland: Thomas, by divine compassion Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan, dully and lawfully invested therein by the subscribed authority of the Parliament of England:

Health and perpetual happiness, with honor.

Since by your most excellent royal majesty it has been considered worthy to lead into matrimony the noble and distinguished woman Lady Katherine Latimer, lately the wife of the distinguished and powerful man, Lord Latimer, during his natural life, now deceased, she being favored by the most good and most great God and by your initiatives:

Therefore, that marriage between your most excellent kingly majesty and the said noblewoman, Lady Katherine, in whatever Church, chapel, or oratory or wherever else your kingly majesty may wish to choose, without any proclamation of banns, may be solemnized by any bishop or priest whatsoever; and that you may exempt from actual constraints,

We and our soul, moved in this regard duly and legitimately by the honor of your estate and concerned for the benefit of the whole realm of England, with the authority established by these presents, do dispense with constitutions and ordinances propounded to the contrary, nothing whatsoever standing in the way.

Given at our manor of Lambeth, under our seal for enactments, the tenth day of the month of July, the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred forty-three; and of your majesty’s most happy and most illustrious reign, the thirty-fifth; and of our consecration, the eleventh year.

[Witnessed by]

Nicholas Wotton, Comissioner

Richard Lyell, Clerk for enactments by the said very Reverend [Lord Archbishop]

Source: Kew, Surrey: The National Archives, E 30/1472(6). A formulaic Latin writ in the engrossing hand of Richard Lyell, Cranmer’s clerk for enactments, sealed with the archbishop’s outsized seal.

  • From Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences, edited by Janel Mueller.

20 JUNE 1543: Lisle to Parr

On 20 June 1543: John Dudley, Lord Lisle writes to Lord William Parr from Greenwich Palace.

“Thanks for his letter of the 11th and for taking Lisle’s servants during the time of his abode there. In reply to his desire for news; the King is well, and is newly come from Harwiche, where he perused and saw two notable havens but liked Coulme Water best. Wrote that it was like to grow to war with France; and this is now intimated, and the King sends Mr Treasurer to Guisnes with 4,000 footmen and 500 horsemen; and Sir Rice Mansfeld is gone to the seas with 10 ships. This for a beginning. When the Emperor comes into Flanders, who is already past Italy and arrived in Almayne, you shall hear of greater going both by land and sea. Other news “is none but that my lady Latymer, your sister, and Mrs Herbert be both here in the Court with my lady Mary’s grace and my lady Elizabethe.” Will write again when he has news. Made his commendations as directed, and also to other friends, of whom there be numbers that desire his “short return.”

Greenwich 20 June Signed P 1 Flyleaf with address lost

1Dudley,John02(sig)

Family of Queen Katherine: Lady Anne Clifford

Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery, suo jure 14th Baroness de Clifford (30 January 1590 – 22 March 1676) was an English peeress in her own right. She descended from Princess Mary, Duchess of Suffolk, the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York by Mary’s daughter, Lady Eleanor Brandon (aunt of Lady Jane Grey). She married into the Herbert family; Sir Philip, 4th Earl of Pembroke. Pembroke was the grandson of Lady Anne Herbert; the Queen’s sister.
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Title page of a 1923 edition of Lady Anne Clifford’s diaries, with an introduction by Vita Sackville-West. Folger Library Collection, District of Columbia, USA.
Lady Anne become an important woman in her time. She was an important patron of literature and due to her own writings in the form of letters and the diary she kept from 1603 to 1616, was a literary figure in her own right. John Donne said of her that she could “discourse of all things from Predestination to Slea-silk”.
thegreatpicture_anneclifford_1646_byjanvanbelcamp
The Great Picture, a huge triptych measuring 8ft 5″ high and 16ft 2″ wide, commissioned in 1646 by Anne Clifford, attributed to Jan van Belcamp (1610-1653). Abbott Hall Art Museum. Kendal, UK.
Lady Anne Clifford was also a patron of art. She commissioned a large scale portrait that includes three separate panels detailing her life. The Great Picture, a huge triptych measuring 8ft 5″ high and 16ft 2″ wide, commissioned in 1646 by Anne Clifford. The artwork is attributed to Jan van Belcamp (1610-1653). It formerly hung in Appleby Castle, but is now displayed in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria. The portrait depicts Anne as a girl at left and as a mature woman at right. The central panel shows her parents and young brothers. The painting is replete with significant elements referring to her life and to her succession to her paternal inheritance, gained after a lengthy legal dispute.
Abbott Hall Art Gallery had Lady Anne featured in an exhibition, Anne Clifford: A Life of Portrait and Print. Abbott Hall is in the Lake District where the Parr family originated. The Huddersfield University in Kendal, UK, wrote a feature PDF on two pieces presented in the exhibition.
  1. “Great Books of Record” which preserves Anne’s ancestral records and her own children and grandchildren. Three volumes were made specifically to highlight the inheritance the women of the Clifford family brought to their marriages. A nod to what would become “feminism” I suppose.
  2. The Great Picture” which is previously discussed and a portrait is provided in this post.

Problems with Identification: Tudor Portraits

Portrait of an Unknown Lady c.1565-8 by Hans Eworth active 1540-1573
Portrait of an Unknown Lady c.1565-8 by Hans Eworth (1540-1573), Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom

There is a yet another discrepancy as to who the sitter is in another Hans Eworth portrait from the Tudor era. This time around, the actual sitter is, in fact, unknown. The proposed sitter of the painting was (and still is often) Lady Eleanor Clifford. Wikipedia has the portrait as Lady Eleanor’s main portrait. However, there has been a nod to perhaps the sitter being Eleanor’s daughter, Lady Margaret Clifford. As to who is really is–we’re not sure, so let’s study the background of each woman.

Lady Clifford was born Lady Eleanor Brandon in 1519 – 27 September 1547) She was the second daughter of Sir Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and his wife the former Princess Mary, Queen of France. Her mother was the younger sister of King Henry VIII; making Eleanor a grandchild of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. In March 1533, a marriage contract was written up for Lady Eleanor and Lord Henry Clifford, the eldest son and heir of Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland by Lady Margaret Percy.[2] However, since her mother died nine months later, she waited to go and live with her young husband and in-laws. Eleanor officially married Lord Clifford at Brandon house, Bridewell, in 1537; her uncle King Henry VIII was present.[3][4][5][6] 

Lady Clifford served several of her uncle’s queens. In 1536, she was Chief Mourner to Queen Katherine of Aragon; the deposed wife Henry put aside for his second, Anne Boleyn.

Lady Eleanor and her husband had one surviving child, Lady Margaret, who was born in 1540. Eleanor died on 27 September 1547, nine months after her uncle Henry VIII. At the time of her death, her cousin Edward VI was King.

Lady Margaret Clifford would have been born in the process of King Henry VIII’s wife swaps. In 1540, Katherine Howard was consort. A short lived marriage that put Katherine on the chopping block dissolved and Henry was single again. In 1543, the King would marry for the 6th and final time to the widowed Lady Latimer (born Katherine Parr). Queen Katherine had a sturdy circle of religious women around her at all times. In her list of ladies-in-waiting, we see that both Lady Cumberland (mother to Margaret) and the Duchess of Suffolk (Lady Frances Brandon; aunt to Margaret) are listed. Margaret would have only been three when her granduncle married Katherine Parr.

The scandal of Lady Jane Grey hit Lady Margaret’s immediate family hard. Her cousin, Jane was in line to the throne after King Edward VI and his two sisters; Ladies Mary and Elizabeth. King Edward saw fit to bypass his sisters in his will and give his cousin Lady Jane the crown. Jane was the daughter of Lady Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk. As such, Jane was the niece of Lady Eleanor Clifford; mother of Lady Margaret. The scandal was quickly suppressed and the will of Henry VIII (Edward’s father) was upheld. Lady Mary Tudor came to court to denounce her cousin Jane. The will of Henry VIII held more sway over Edward’s. Also, the blood descendants of King Henry VIII were preferred over the descendants of his father, Henry VII. There were two still living. Mary claimed her right to the throne and Jane was disposed. Jane, her father, her husband, and a few others were implicated and eventually executed under the new queen. As for Lady Margaret? She joined the court of Queen Mary. Queen Mary consented to the marriage of Lady Margaret to the heir of the Earldom of Derby and the two were married at Westminster Palace on February 12, 1555.

In 1557, Lady Margaret started to cause somewhat of a ruckus by claiming a superior succession to the crown than her cousins, Lady Catherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey. Margaret stated that because her cousin Jane had been tainted, tried, and executed, the whole line of the Grey family should be barred from the succession.

The death of Queen Mary set Lady Margaret in the attendance of the new Queen, Elizabeth. She held the rank of two of the highest noblewomen in the country along with her cousin, Lady Margaret Douglas (daughter of the eldest sibling of Henry VIII; Queen Margaret of Scots). Lady Margaret Clifford’s status may have been enough for a portrait. Her cousin, Margaret Douglas, certainly got a few.

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Full-length portrait of Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (1515-78), standing with a Griffon at her feet. She is holding gloves in her left hand and resting her right on a table on which stands a clock in the form of a tempietto, the dial surmounted by a hound and a shield with the arms of Scotland. Inscribed: THE LADY MARGARET. HIR GRACE / LATE WIFE TO MATHEW ERLLE / OF LENNOX REGENT OF SCOTLANDE / AND MOTHER TO HENRY KINGE / OF SCOTLAND / Aetatis 55 Aí Dni. 1572.

 

What We Know About the Portrait

The coat of arms in the top left corner, which may have been added later, are the impaled arms (those of a husband and wife) of Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, and his wife Lady Eleanor, daughter of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France. As a result the painting has been frequently exhibited in the past as a portrait of Lady Eleanor, regardless of the fact that she died in 1547, well before the date of this portrait [the roman numerals MDLX at the top right = 1560]. It is, however, a rule of heraldry that impaled arms are not used by the children of a marriage, as they would have their own. Hence the later addition and erroneous use of the arms here suggests that the identity of the portrait was already unclear only two or three generations after it was painted, a situation by no means unusual amid the frequent early deaths, multiple marriages, and shifting alliances and fortunes of the most powerful families of the Tudor era. Later the portrait was thought to represent the only child of Eleanor and Henry to survive infancy, Margaret. Unfortunately the inscription on the right which might have provided a check (Margaret would have been aged 25-28 at the time of this portrait) has been truncated; although the Roman numerals of the year can apply only to 1565-8, the age of the sitter cannot be ascertained with any useful accuracy. The National Portrait Gallery has an online sketch of this portrait identified as Lady Eleanor, but the portrait remains in dispute.

Another unfortunate aspect of the portrait is the clothing; the clothing does not match the time period of Lady Eleanor Brandon. The dress is third quarter of the 16th century and is of Spanish influence.

According to Richard Davey. The sisters of Lady Jane Grey and their wicked grandfather, E.P. Dutton and co., 1912:

The Lady Eleanor Brandon was a better looking woman than her sister Frances. When her tomb in Skipton Church was disturbed in the seventeenth century her skeleton which was in perfect condition proved her to have been very tall and large boned whereas the Lady Frances was of medium stature. Lady Eleanor, if we may judge by her portrait, which hangs at Skipton Castle, was pretty rather than beautiful. The writer confesses that the portrait at Skipton did not impress him as that of one who could have put forward the slightest pretensions to good looks; the cheeks are high, the forehead abnormally broad, the eyes however are fine, and the hair fair but the complexion according to this venerable picture must have been quite ghastly. The portrait is very badly painted; a poor thing worth little as a work of art but none the less interesting.

The site for the Tate Gallery concludes that the painting is still unidentified, yet there is an identical sketch on the site for the National Portrait Gallery identified as Lady Eleanor. Who’s who?

Another proposal for the sitter is given as Hon. Margaret Wentworth, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron and his wife Margaret Fortescue. Sir Thomas was a nephew of Queen Jane Seymour’s mother, Margaret Wentworth. Thomas’s daughter, Margaret, married three times; Sir John, Baron Williams of Thame; Sir William Drury; and Sir James Croft. The new identification is given by Dr. Roy Strong based on the comparison to her sister, Jane Wentworth, Lady Cheney [below].

Problems with Identifying Tudor Portraits

npg_4451_Katherine_Parr
Queen Katherine Parr attributed to Master John c. 1544. NPG, London. (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

For years Queen Katherine Parr’s many portraits were thought to be Lady Jane Grey; it is just recently that the portrait in the NPG in London (first portrait) was finally changed permanently to Queen Katherine Parr based on the research of the Queen’s inventory of jewels which was recorded in the documents of King Henry VIII. They are also recorded in the back of the recently published book, “Katherine Parr: Works and Correspondences.” Those very same jewels that belonged to the Queens of England were last worn by Queen Katherine Parr. After the death of King Henry, and after Edward Seymour proclaimed himself Lord Protector, the jewels, along with her personal jewels, were put into the Tower for safekeeping. Since Edward VI had no queen the jewels would not have been in use unless Edward’s wife Anne Stanhope got a hold of them; which she was not entitled to. Lady Jane Grey was in the household of Queen Dowager Katherine Parr until her death in 1548, but as stated the queen’s jewels were not accessible to Lady Jane and the portrait which is dated in the early 1540s also proves that the person painted had to have possession of those jewels; and who had possession during that time — only Queen Katherine Parr.

Let’s Talk to an Expert

The portrait at the Tate is certainly not of Eleanor Brandon. The artist of that painting is identified as Hans Eworth, an artist who did not become active in England until after Brandon’s death. Too, the style of the sitter’s costume also quite firmly dates the painting to at least a decade after Brandon’s death.
It seems quite logical that a portrait of Eleanor would have hung at Skipton, since that castle belonged to the family of Eleanor’s husband Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland. I do see that Richard Davey claims to have viewed the portrait in situ just prior to World War I. Whether or not his claim is factual is an open question, however. Davey too often simply invented the “facts” presented in his books. His list in Nine Days Queen of portraits of Jane Grey is packed with errors and deliberate falsehoods.
I understand that Skipton is now partially derelict, though it may still have some limited habitable spaces. Have you contacted Skipton Castle directly through their website to ask for any information they may have? That is certainly where I would start. I did check the Getty Research Institute’s Provenance Research Database, but that did not turn up any portraits of Eleanor Brandon Clifford appearing at public auction between 1700 and 1900. But the portrait may have been sold privately. –Dr. Stephan Edwards (Author of A Queen of a New Invention and The Lady Jane Grey Prayer Book)

I have contacted Skipton Castle looking for information. I have yet to receive and email. So for now, as of the end of 2016, the portrait remains unknown.

Sources

  • Lawrence Manley, “From Strange’s Men to Pembroke’s Men: 2 “Henry VI” and “The First Part of the Contention”.”, Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 54, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 253-287.
  • Sir Sidney Lee. Dictionary of national biography, Volume 54, Smith, Elder, & co., 1898. pg 70.Google eBook 
  • Eleanor Clifford (née Brandon), Countess of Cumberland, probably by Alfred Thomas Derby, after Unknown artist, Purchased, 1893, Reference Collection NPG D23066. National Portrait Gallery 
  • The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.66-8. Tate Collections
  • Katherine Parr, attributed to Master John, circa 1545. Purchased with help from the Gulbenkian Foundation, 1965 Primary Collection. Reference Collection NPG 4451

  • Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (1515-78), c.1572, British School, 16th Century, Royal Collection Trust. RCIN 401183
  • Kathy Lynn Emerson Who’s Who in Tudor Women.