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Photograph of Michael Ostrog

Michael Ostrog (b. 1833)
a.k.a. Bertrand Ashley, Claude Clayton (Cayton), Dr. Grant, Max Grief Gosslar, Ashley Nabokoff, Orloff, Count Sobieski, Max Sobiekski, et alia.

Born: 1833

1863: While using the alias Max Grief (Kaife) Gosslar, Ostrog committed theft at Oxford college, and was soon after sentenced to ten months in prison.

1864: Convicted at Cambridge, sentenced to three months in prison. In July, appeared in Tunbridge Wells under the name Count Sobieski. Imprisoned in December of 1864, sentenced to eight months.

1866: Acquitted on charges of fraud, January 1866. On March 19th, stole a gold watch and other articles from a woman in Maidstone. Committed similar thefts in April. Arrested in August, sentenced to seven years in prison.

1873: Released from prison in May. Committed numerous other thefts, and subsequently arrested by Superintendent Oswell in Burton-on-Trent. Produced a revolver at the police station and nearly shot his captors.

1874: Convicted in January of 1874, sentenced to ten years in prison.

1883: Released from prison in August, 1883.

1887: Arrested for theft of a metal tankard in July. Sentenced to six months hard labor in September 1887. Listed as suffering from "mania" on September 30th, 1887.

1888: Released, March 10 1888, as "cured."  Mentioned in Police Gazette, October 1888, as a "dangerous man" who failed to report. Sentenced to two years imprisonment in Paris for theft, November 18th, 1888.

1891: Committed to the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum.

1894: Charged for an 1889 theft at Eton.

1898: Charged in Woolwich for theft of books.

1900: Imprisoned for theft of a microscope at London Hospital, Whitechapel. Known to be partially paralyzed by this time.

1904: Released from prison and entered St. Giles Christian Mission, Holborn. Nothing further is known of Ostrog after this time.

History of Ostrog as a Suspect

Mentioned for the first time as a suspect in the Macnaghten Memoranda, which said the following of him in 1894:

Michael Ostrog, a mad Russian doctor and a convict and unquestionably a homicidal maniac. This man was said to have been habitually cruel to women, and for a long time was known to have carried about with him surgical knives and other instruments; his antecedents were of the very worst and his whereabouts at the time of the Whitechapel murders could never be satisfactorily accounted for. He is still alive.

This account does not seem to tally very well with the pathetic petty criminal we see in the historical record.

Ostrog was first introduced to the public in Donald McCormick's The Identity of Jack the Ripper (1962). From that time very little was known until recent research by D.S. Goffee revealed a wealth of information on his criminal career. This information was published in the October 1994 issue of Ripperana, "The Search for Michael Ostrog."  Phil Sugden also covers him as a suspect in The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (1995).

Physical Description

  • Five foot, eleven inches in height.
  • Dark brown hair.
  • Grey eyes.
  • Often dressed in a "semi-clerical" suit.
  • Had a scar on right thumb and right shin
  • Had numerous flogging marks on his back.
  • Two large moles on right shoulder, one on the back of his neck.
  • Described as a Russian, Russian Pole, and a Polish Jew at various times.


Our thanks to John Winn Oswell for the following photographs

1873 Description of Michael Ostrog

1870s Photograph of of Michael Ostrog

Benjamin Thomas Oswell, Lieut Colonel N.Staffs Regiment and Deputy Chief Constable of Staffordshire. Arrested Ostrog in 1873.

Related pages:
  Michael Ostrog
       Dissertations: Ostrog - An Adventurer at Eton 
       Message Boards: Michael Ostrog 
       Official Documents: The Macnaghten Memoranda 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 11 December 1900 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 16 October 1873 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 20 December 1900 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 28 February 1866 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 3 October 1873 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 6 January 1874 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 7 October 1873 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Michael Ostrog