The sitter was the daughter of Sir Alexander Temple (1583-1629) of St. Mary's Hoo, Kent, and Long House, Chadwell, Essex. She married first, in 1627, Sir Gifford Thornhurst of Agnes Court, Kent, who died two months later. Their daughter Frances was the mother of Sarah, wife of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. In 1633 Susanna married Sir Martin Lister of Thorpe Arnold, Leicestershire, by whom she had ten children. Their second son, Martin, was a celebrated zoologist and botanist who became physician-in-ordinary to Queen Anne. Susanna was buried at Burwell, Lincolnshire on 28 November 1669. Sir Martin died the following year and was succeeded by their eldest son, Michael.
A bust-length portrait of the sitter by Cornelis Johnson, signed and dated 1620, is in the Tate Gallery, London (T03250).