The sitter was the son of Edward, 1st Baron North, and his wife Alice, daughter of Oliver Squier of Southby, Hampshire. He was introduced to court and immediately attracted the attention of the young Princess Elizabeth at a tilting tournament. Roger represented Cambridge in Parliament in 1558 and 1563, and upon Elizabeth's coronation in 1559 he was created Knight of the Bath. In 1568, Roger served as Ambassador to Vienna where he invested Emperor Maximilian with the Order of the Garter. In 1574 he visited Henry III as Ambassador to France.
In 1585, he accompanied Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester to assist in the Dutch struggle for independence, and served with distinction at the Battle of Zutphen. By 1588 he had returned to England to supervise military preparations for possible Spanish invasion, and in 1596 he was appointed the Queen's Treasurer and Privy Councillor.
Roger Married Winifred, daughter of Richard Lord Rich in 1555. She died in 1558 leaving him with two sons and one daughter.