The sitter has been identified traditionally as Queen Mary I of England, however, on stylistic grounds and on the basis of the sitter's costume, this portrait would appear to date to circa 1615, making this traditional identification untenable.
The fact that the jewels worn in the hair of the sitter resemble the coronet of rank of an Earl or Countess, and that a bay tree, which appears to bear the motto NON SINE NOMINE (Not Without Name), is included to the left of the sitter's head, has led Thomas Woodcock, Norroy and Ulster, King of Arms, to suggest that the sitter may be Elizabeth (b. 1573), daughter of John Vernon of Hodnet, Shropshire, and wife of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), whom she married secretly in August 1598. At the time of her marriage, Elizabeth Vernon was maid of honour to Elizabeth I who, on hearing of their clandestine act, removed Wriothesley's titles. Wriothesley was recreated Earl of Southampton by King James I in 1603, which could explain the inclusion of the bay tree, as a symbol of regeneration, and the motto. This theory is reinforced by a marked resemblance to other portraits of Elizabeth Vernon, for example, a half-length at the National Portrait Gallery, London, by an unknown artist. Furthermore, Frances, widow of Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, married Conyers D'Arcy (who succeeded as Earl of Holderness in 1689), and Whitaker's History of Richmondshire (1823) shows the descent of Hornby Castle from the Conyers family, to the Darcy family and down to the Duke of Leeds on the marriage of Amilia Darcy in 1773 to Francis Osborne, subsequently Duke of Leeds.