The woman who shot her lover then married him

June 3, 2011 at 10:31 am (Chicago, Happy Valley, introduction, Kenya, Paris, PD Armour and Family, Silverthorne Family, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In 1984, when I should have been studying for my senior school exams, I was reading a book called White Mischief about the unsolved murder of the adulterous Earl of Erroll in Kenya at the height of World War II.

One chapter entitled “The fastest gun in the Gare du Nord” caught my attention.  This was the story of Alice Silverthorne de Janze de Trafford, a Jazz Age American heiress with a troubled story, who along with her husband, a French Comte, was friends with Erroll and his wife Idina (nee Sackville, daughter of Earl de la Warr).  Alice was also, with Idina’s knowledge, Erroll’s mistress for over two decades.

Alice was best known at the time however, as the woman who shot her lover Raymond de Trafford, in the Gare du Nord in Paris, then five years later married him, and it was this part of the story that stayed with me. What sort of woman can shoot a man and still convince him to marry her?

Fast forward to 1999 and I was on bed rest with a high-risk pregnancy, and bored, bored, bored. Surfing the net was one of the few things I could safely do.  After exhausting the multiple birth sites and scaring myself with the possibilities of what could go wrong, I turned instead to the genealogy websites, and, having exhausted my own family, started researching Alice. 

At first this was quite difficult but as more and more resources started being available on the net, a fascinating story emerged of a complex woman struggling with her psychological inheritance in a world where there were few rules that could not be broken.

This led to a journey of over a decade and brought me into contact with some interesting people whose lives were intimately or tangentially affected by Alice and her story.

This is the story of that journey, of the people who helped along the way, the clues that led to understanding, or sometimes led to more puzzles, the tangents too obscure to include in a biography, but ultimately as fascinating as Alice’s story itself, her friends and family whose lives were as interesting and complex as Alice’s. 

For Alice, was a product of her times, of her family and her friends and of the lands that her adventurous spirit took her to.  The tragedy that befell her was both of her own making and also predestined by her personality, upbringing and the tragedies that befell her.

And I fell in love with Alice’s story.

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3 Comments

  1. Rob Faurot said,

    There was extensive newspaper coverage of Alice Silverthorne in the Chicago Tribune at the time of her trial for the shooting. I have seen the original clippings and they are impressive. I imagine her prominence and the nature of the trial sold a lot of newspapers in Chicago.

    My grandfather (Henry Faurot Jr) was first cousin with Alice. My aunt grew up with Alice and in fact was named for her.

    Your writings about the Silverthornes and the Faurots is quite accurate and I am enjoying your blog. Please continue with your work and feel free to contact me if you wish.

    • Mudmap said,

      Thanks Rob. I have seen some of the newspaper articles – they are quite amazing. Some of the things the say you would be sued for these days.

      I appreciate your input – please feel free to correct me if any of the information is incorrect. This is always a work in progress!.

      I got a lot from Pat Silverthorne McGuigan, Alice’s sister. She was however considerably younger than Alice so some of what she told me was I think stories she had heard. She was of course very protective of her sister and of her father.

      I am trying to think who your aunt was – I will need to go back through my records. Would love to hear from you.

  2. Rob Faurot said,

    Feel free to contact me directly with any questions, I may be able to fill in some blanks. Please keep up the good work.

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