Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was the daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence and Isabel, elder daughter of the Earl of Warwick. Margaret was married by Henry VII to Sir Richard Pole of Buckinghamshire c.1491 and was given the family lands of the earldom of Salisbury by Henry VIII as an act of atonement for the execution of her brother Edward, Earl of Warwick. In 1513 she was created the Countess of Salisbury and was to become governess to the Princess Mary. On the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, Margaret refused to give up Princess Mary's jewels to the new Queen and was discharged from her office. On the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536 Margaret, Countess of Salisbury returned to court but her position was comprimised by the publication of her brother Reginald Pole's book 'De Unitate Ecclesiatica' for which despite her condemnation, Henry VIII resolved to destroy the family. Margaret and her other sons were imprisoned and in 1539 a Bill of Attainder was passed against her. After news of Sir John Neville's rising in Yorkshire in 1541, she was found guilty of collaborating with the Northern Uprising, and although she claimed her innocence was sentanced to death. On the morning of 28 May 1541 she walked calmly to East Smithfield Green within the precincts of the Tower of London where she was beheaded.
This portrait may have been executed for the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury to replace one destroyed in the 1882 fire at Ingestre Hall, Staffordshire.