The sitter, the son of Robert Heath of Brasted, Kent, and Anne, daughter of Nicholas Poyser, was born at Brasted on 20 May 1575. Sir Robert Heath was elected Member of Parliament for the City of London in 1620 and for East Grinstead in 1623 and 1625, and rose to prominence as one of the strongest supporters of the royal prerogative. He was appointed Attorney-General in 1625 and his tenure of that office was marked by a more stringent enforcement of the laws against recusancy and he presided over the Star Chamber prosecutions between 1629-30. He was appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1642 and in December of that year began the trial of four members of the army on a charge of high treason. Relations with Parliament rapidly deteriorated and in 1644 the House of Commons impeached Heath for high treason. He fled to France in 1646 and died at Calais on 30 August 1649. Heath was one of a number of significant patrons of the artist in Kent.
Two other portraits, purportedly of Sir Robert Heath were exhibited at the National Portrait Exhibition in 1866, one belonging to Cospatrick Alexander, 11th Earl of Home, and the other to St. John's College, Cambridge.