Monday, September 14, 2009

Could This Be Mary Newman Drake???

For those who know me, they will know I am OBSESSED, with finding information about Mary Newman Drake, Francis Drake's first wife.
I'm naive. I'd like to think there is something out there about her, but alas, nothing has turned up. As historians before me have claimed. "Nothing is known about her." She has dates of marriage and death, and that's it. She was a nobody when she married Francis, and she died just shortly after he became a "somebody."

I've written a novel that has to do with Mary, and the possibility of lost Spanish gold...and where she might have hidden it. For research, I thought to myself "Okay, so, Nicholas Hilliard painted a miniature of Francis Drake in 1581 shortly after he was knighted and had become very rich, wouldn't Francis have wanted a miniature done of Mary, his then wife? If anything, to have with him when he went to sea?" Perhaps Hilliard painted it, but Mary was dead before Francis could claim it?
I went on a hunt: "Unknown Ladies" painted by Hilliard, circa 1580's. And I found this gem:

It could be her. The background has faded, but it is a similar color to the Francis Drake miniature. The lady is decked out in heavy finery (almost to the point of "over doing it") as perhaps the newly minted "Lady" Drake might have done? She's very pretty (as Mary was reputed to be) and it would be AWESOME if this was her.
No one knows. I'd like to think it IS her. I've put this picture in my ever-growing binder of Mary Newman research. I'll never tire of research. It's like going on a treasure hunt--in the comfort of your own home!


  1. She's beautiful! Let's say it's her. :)

  2. Hi Lara,

    I do have information about Mary Newman Drake.
    I can also tell you that the image that you show here is indeed her. You need a bit of an accepting and open mind to hear more of what I can tell you, however, I can assure you that my source is impeccable.
    I'm in California. You can email me if you'd like at and I can tell you more if you are interested.

    ~ Duane Van Dieman
    Mill Valley, Ca.

  3. Duane.....Im playing drake this next year at our Renaissance Faire....can you give me info on mary as I'm looking for a character tips for someone about to play Drakes wife and need all the info about her. Hope you can help


    Ray Hitchmough

    Fishers Renaissance Faire, Indianapois, Indiana

  4. Put up ALL the facts you know about her

  5. this looks similar to Sir Francis Drake's second wife, Elizabeth sydeham

  6. I will say there is a "resemblance" to Elizabeth Sydenham, however this is an "unknown" portrait by Hilliard. If it were indeed the Second Lady Drake, the portrait would certainly be attributed to her. So, I like to think not. ;-)

  7. There is a reason there aren't portraits of her, and that there is such limited information available concerning her. There is also a precedent over 500 years earlier, same conditions...

  8. And yes, this is her, but the angle is bad, her cheeks should be "chipmunk", not amorphous, and the mouth should be a bit wider.