Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: DE TRAFFORD, Alice

image of individualimage of individualimage of individualimage of individualimage of individualimage of individual

Nee: Silverthorne, dau. of wealthy shoe manufacturer William Edward Silverthorne

Birth Date: 28 Sept 1899 Buffalo, New York

Death Date: 30 Sept 1941 suicide on her farm in Wanjohi valley

Nationality: American

First Date: 1926

Last Date: 1941

Area: 'Clouds'

Married: 1. In Chicago 21 Sep 1921 Comte Frédéric Jacques de Janze (1896-1933, div. 1927); 2. In Neuilly, France 22 Feb 1932 Raymund Vincent de Trafford (1900-1971, div. 1938)

Children: 1. Nolwen Louise Alice (1 June 1924-24 Dec 2006) (Rice and later 2nd wife of Baron Kenneth Clark); Paola Marie Jeanne (1 June 1924-24 Dec 2006)

Book Reference: Paul Spicer 'The Temptress', 2010; Nellie, Markham, Mischief, Thurston, Web, Ghosts

General Information:

Nellie - 1941 - 'Alice de Trafford shot herself the other day - with surer aim, poor thing, than she applied to Raymond at the Gare du Nord. She was very miserable, did about 1 mile to the gallon on gin, and had had a major op. and lost her beloved little dachshund.'
Markham - 1931 - Tom Campbell Black flew Lord Furness up to Clouds, Alice's home in the Wanjohi Valley, one evening, coming into the house to find the 'drawing room, one moonlit night, full of writhing naked bodies.'  
Mischief - One of the first marriages to be threatened by Josslyn Hay was that of Frederic and Alice de Janzé. Alice fell in love with Joss the moment she saw him, on her first trip to Kenya with her husband in 1925. She was 25. They had been married for 3 years and had 2 small daughters. Patricia Bowles, who became her closest friend, says of her affair with Joss: 'it was on and off, on and off, I think on many and various occasions. It was never a sort of acknowledged affair. But I think she was always in love with him.'. Alice was probably the most dangerous of his mistresses, perhaps the most fascinating, and certainly, when she was in her 20s, before the excesses of Wanjohi got the better of her, the most exquisite looking. Her face was pale and delicate, with high cheekbones and wide, calm eyes of deep violet colour. She had a lovely, slightly frail figure and short black hair bound tightly in the nape of her neck. She would invariably dress in corduroy trousers and bright, loose, flannel shirts. ........ she was the only child of William Silverthorne of Chicago, a rich felt manufacturer of Scots descent, and through her mother, she was an heiress to the Armour meat-packing fortune. ......... she was wayward and unstable, heightened by the madness of the 1920s, with which she was fatally touched. ...... there was a disorder somewhere in her psyche, a lasting melancholy. Her mother had died of consumption when she was 5 and Alice was consumptive from birth. ...... She married Comte de Janzé, from an old Breton family, in Chicago in 1922 ..... a succession of safaris in Kenya followed ......... Alice left her children in France and dismissed them from her life altogether. .... One of her daughters married Lord Clark ...... she played the ukelele singing in a low, broken voice and she loved animals and was very emotional about them. Had a sizeable menagerie on her farm. ........... She started a stormy romance with Raymond de Trafford and eloped with him to a cottage on Idina [Sackville]'s estate ........... asked Frederic for a divorce. ........ Raymond's devout Catholic family refused to let him marry her and threatened to cut him off if he did so. ........ Alice fired a gun at him and then herself. Both were badly wounded, Raymond near the heart, and Alice in the stomach ...... she was charged with attempted murder .... she had already made 4 attempts to kill herself ....... she went back to Kenya but was told to leave by Government House. .......... she was allowed to return to Kenya and, in 1932, made the mistake of marrying Raymond de Trafford, five years after the shooting at the Gare du Nord. Barely 3 months after their marriage, at Neuilly, they were separated. Paula Long remembers their incessant fighting and they never met again. ........ by 1940 Alice had adopted a new friend, Julian 'Lizzie' Lezard, who was already a celebrated figure in London Society. ........... According to Cyril Connolly she had had affairs with - Lord Erroll, Dickie Pembroke, Jack Soames (unlikely) and Lizzie Lezard
Thurston - CO 533 376/14 - 1928 - Contesse d'Janzi (Mrs Silverthorne): re-entry into Kenya
Travel - July 2002 - Happy Valley by Juliet Barnes - ……. We were fortunate to find Alice de Janze's former cattle herdsman living nearby. …….. He pointed out two unmarked graves, which he had dug himself for Alice and her little dog 'Mini', now situated between football goalposts and school pit-latrines. Calling Alice by the nickname given to her by her Kikuyu staff, 'Wacheke' (meaning 'thin'), he dramatically re-enacted the drama in 1941 when Alice poisoned herself and her dog, only killing the dog, although not long afterwards she successfully shot herself. …..
Web - Alice Silverthorne was born in Buffalo, NY, on 28 September 1899, the daughter of wealthy shoe manufacturer William E. Silverthorne (1867-1941) and of Julia Belle Chapin, an heiress to the Armour meatpacking fortune (Julia's mother, Marietta Armour was a sister of Philip Danforth Armour who founded the family company with another brother). When Alice was very young, the family moved to Chicago and her mother died of tuberculosis on 2 June 1907. Alice was also infected but remained a consumptive without symptoms for the remainder of her life. She was then raised by governesses and became known for her wild debutante years. Her father often took her to Europe where she became a regular on the social circuit. After an accident possibly caused by his alcoholism her father lost custody of Alice and she was made a ward of her uncle. Alice moved to Paris when she was 21 and, while working in the model department of Jean Patou, she met Count Frederic de Janzé (1896-1933) who was not only a race-car driver in the Le Mans race but also a friend of Marcel Proust and Anna de Noailles. Their engagement was announced in July of 1921 and they were married on 21 September 1921 at Chicago's Church of Our Lady of Carmel. ………….. They were lent the J. Ogden Armour estate on Long Island for a 2 week honeymoon then left to visit the groom's family at Dinard near Paris before spending their first winter in Morocco. Alice promptly gave birth to 2 daughters, Nolwen (born 11 months after her parents wedding0 and Paola born in 1924. They were reared almost entirely by nannies and by their father's sister at the de Janzé chateau in Normandy. Alice exhibited what her husband termed as 'unstable, suicidal' thoughts and he suggested that the two travel to the hedonistic community of British nationals living in Kenya. Termed the 'Happy Valley' they were known for sexual excess drugs and alcohol and Alice was all too happy to join them. They moved next door to Josslyn Hay, Lord Kilmarnock (1901-1941) the future 22nd Earl of Erroll and his twice-divorced wife Idina. Lord Erroll was handsome and virile and immediately began to enjoy the attractions of Alice who was described by her husband as having 'full red lips, a body to desire.' Alice soon earned the nickname 'the wicked Madonna'. In 1926 Alice began an affair with Raymond de Trafford (1900-1971) third son of inveterate gambler Sir Humphrey de Trafford, 3rd baronet (who declared bankruptcy in 1907 despite an annual income of $240,000). The handsome young man was a friend of Evelyn Waugh. Although Alice's husband was aware of the affair he eventually recognised that this one was far more serious than those in her past. In his attempt to save the marriage the de Janzé's moved to Paris. When Alice returned to de Trafford in Kenya her husband surrendered to the inevitable and began divorce proceedings. ……………….. Alice planned to marry de Trafford but his socially-prominent Catholic family was violently opposed to a union with a divorced seductress and threatened to disinherit him. On 25 March 1927 Alice was with de Trafford in Paris' Gare du Nord where he intended to tell her goodbye before leaving for London on an Express boat train. He used the occasion to tell her that their relationship was ended. Alice pulled a revolver from her purse, shot him in the chest then shot herself in the stomach. Both were critically injured - he was shot very near the heart - and rushed in the same ambulance to the hospital. They lay near death for days, were given surgeries, and his wounds were found to be worse than hers. The beautiful but caustic Lady Diana Cooper joked "shot him then herself and missed both". Two weeks later Alice was charged with the shooting while still a hospital patient. She responded that she intended to commit suicide but overcome in the heat of t6he moment shot her lover as well. After his recovery de Trafford was flown to London telling Paris authorities that he did not want to press charges against Alice who was held at the women's prison at St. Lazare. Her husband was granted a divorce on 23 December 1927 and the Paris tribunal made no mention of the shooting. Unsurprisingly he was given custody of both daughters. Count Frederic de Janzé in 1930 married a wealthy American wife Genevieve Willinger Ryan widow of Thomas Jefferson Ryan. He wrote 2 books 'Vertical Land' and 'Tarred with the Same Brush' and died at Baltimore, MD, of septicemia on 24 December 1933. ……… [trial] Alice returned to Kenya early in 1928 but was asked by the government to leave as 'an undesirable alien'. Rumors surfaced that she and de Trafford were married. Three weeks later they argued publicly in a restaurant and never saw one another again. Alice obtained a divorce in 1937 charging her husband was 'an idler who associates with disreputable women'. ……………. [back to Kenya and murder of Lord Erroll] Alice became an immediate suspect both because of the relationship they had shared years before as well as her own trial for shooting de Trafford. Alice appeared at the morgue where Lord Erroll's body was resting. In front of witnesses, she lifted her dress, rubbed her hand between her legs, wiped her fingers on the corpse's mouth and said "Now you are mine forever." ……………………. Alice was diagnosed with uterine cancer in August of 1941. Soon after having a hysterectomy she unsuccessfully attempted to take her life with poison but was rescued when a friend secured medical care. Finally on 30 September 1941 Alice Silverthorne de Janzé de Trafford shot herself to death in her home in Kenya only 2 days after turning 42. One of her 3 suicide notes was to the daughters she had so rarely seen. Another asked that her friends throw a cocktail party on her grave. Her death was officially ruled a suicide in January of 1942
Web - Oxford dnb - Happy Valley - Alice de Janze, heiress to a Chicago meat-packing fortune, endured a horrid childhood during which she tried to slash her wrists. She was a little woman with bright, feverish eyes and high cheekbones, who spoke in a deep-voiced American drawl that accentuated her air of naughtiness. By temperament she was melancholic and lascivious.
CO533/376/14 - De Trafford and Janzi - 4/2/1928 - Reports action taken in case of the Comtesse Janzi who has been allowed a month in Kenya to settle her affairs and suggests De Trafford be warned not to attempt to enter Colony.
Comtesse - deemed a prohibited immigrant because she has been convicted of an offence for which a sentence for imprisonment has been passed for any term … (after shooting at Gare du Nord)
3/11/1928 - Telegram received from Mrs Silverthorne, Paris "My free pardon has been granted signed by President 5th Oct" and she wants to return to Kenya - not allowed even after the pardon? - undesirable immigrant in consequence of information from any trusted source .….. Serious mental instability.
Same for Raymond de Trafford 'femme de Janze née Silverthorne, Alice, vingt huit ans, sans profession, se disant née le vingt huit Septembre mil huit cent quatre vingt dix neuf a Buffalo (Etats Unis) de William et de Julia Pearl Chaplin manee, deux enfant demeurant a Paris, vingt, Rue Chalgrin .….….……
6 months' imprisonment but not imprisoned as 1st offender.

Back to search results