I was more than happy to accept the portrait's new identity of Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell. While I could detect none of that likeness to Jane Seymour that others seemed to, I was happy to accept such a seemingly compelling theory, which also gave us the appearance of a fourth Seymour sibling.
Also, Elizabeth Seymour seems to have been an interesting character in her own right.
Unfortunately, the more I learned of the portrait's history, that just did not make any sense.
The National Portrait Gallery writes of the Toledo Portrait and the copy in its possession: It is possible that the sitter was a member of the Cromwell family who once owned the picture. Previously it had been in the collection of a descendant of Oliver Cromwell. It is possible that this was a copy made for a descendant eager to trace or prove ancestry.
The Cromwell family had apparently thought that the portrait was of Oliver Cromwell's mother.
Naturally, I went ahead to see what kind of relationship he had to Elizabeth Seymour.
As it turned out, none.
Or more accurately, a very distant one.
She was the wife of the cousin of his great-grandfather.
Elizabeth Seymour's husband was Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell (c. 1520–1551). He was the cousin of Sir Richard Cromwell (c. 1510–1544), who was Oliver Cromwell's great-grandfather.
The painting had not descended down through the descendants of Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell, though she had many children from her first two marriages.
Rather it had descended through the line of her husband's cousin, Sir Richard Cromwell.
No matter how I twisted the facts I could not come up with a sensible explanation for why he would be in a possession of painting of his cousin's wife, rather than that cousin's wife herself, no matter how close the family might have been.
I turned to Sir Richard's family to find other candidates, and like other researchers discovered nil.
From Wikipedia: «The fall and execution of Sir Richard's uncle Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, in July 1540, did not (as might have been supposed) adversely affect his social standing, or private fortune.
In 1541, he was appointed High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, he was also returned as member of parliament for Huntingdonshire, in the parliament which began 16 January 1542. In this year Henry VIII gave him a grant of the monastery of St Mary's, in the town of Huntingdon, and St Neots Priory, whose yearly values were £232 7s. and £256 1s. 3d.
In 1518 Sir Richard married Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Murfyn who was that year Lord Mayor of London. Lady Frances died at Stepney and was buried there on 20 February 1533. Two sons of Sir Richard and Lady Frances survived him:
* Henry, his eldest son and heir, grandfather of Oliver Cromwell.
His son, Sir Henry Williams alias Cromwell
Sir Richard died on 29 October 1544. He had made his will on 20 June 1544, in which he styles himself Sir Richard Williams, otherwise called Sir Richard Cromwell, knt. and of his majesty's privy chamber; he directed that his body should be buried in the place where he should die; and devises his estates in the counties of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Lincoln, and Bedford, to his eldest son Henry, with the sum of £500 to purchase him necessary furniture, when he should come of age: his estates in Glamorganshire he devises to his son Francis and bequeathed £300 to each of his nieces, Joan, and Ann, daughters of his brother, Walter Cromwell; and directed that if Thomas Wingfield, then Sir Richard's ward, should choose to marry either of them, he should have his wardship remitted to him, otherwise the same should be sold. He also left three of his best great horses to the king, and one other great horse to Lord Cromwell, after the king had chosen: legacies were also left to Sir John Williams, and Sir Edward North, chancellor of the court of augmentation; and to several other persons, who seem to have been servants: Gab. Donne, clerk, Andrew Judde, William Coke, Philip Lentall, and Richard Servington, were appointed executors. His will was proved on 28 November 1546.»
Since his wife Frances died in 1533, she could not be the sitter, having died seven years before these particular sleeves came in style. Also, since the two were married in 1519, it seemed reasonable that she was older than an infant at the time and would therefore have been older than in her 21st year in 1540–1543.
I did consider the nieces, but age and the fact that the painting was not in their possession spoke against them.
I did, however, notice something odd. When I clicked upon the link to his son Sir Henry Williams, alias Cromwell, it said (1537 – 1604), that is, that he was born in 1537, four years after his mother's death, but I shrugged it off, fictional birth years and confusion about the likely age of a person distilling into wrong certainty being all too common.