The project looking at our Russian-born students and staff has certainly produced some interesting stories, and this story, although incomplete, may top them all.
Stephen Alley was born in Moscow, son of a British engineer named John. Educated in Moscow, Alley studied English Literature at London’s King’s College, before coming to Glasgow where he studied Science and Arts at the University in 1894-1895.
Alley is thought to have gained his work experience at the family engineering firm, possibly the Alley & MacLellan, Sentinel Works, founded by another Stephen Alley and John A Maclellan at Polmadie, Glasgow, in 1875, before returning to Russia in 1910 to help in the construction of the first heavy oil pipeline to the Black Sea.
However, at the outbreak of the First World War, Alley, with his intimate knowledge of Russian language and culture, was appointed to MI6, and stationed in Petrograd. (St Petersburg).
During Alley’s period of service as a Secret Intelligence Officer, Grigori Rasputin was assassinated while in the employment of Tsar Nicholas II. Stephen Alley and his fellow officers, John Scale and Oswald Rayner were suspected of being the chief organisers of the assassination. 21st century forensic techniques seem to be confirming that suspicion, with the University of Dundee’s Professor Derrick Pounder among those to analyse the available evidence.
We would love to hear from anyone who knows more about this fascinating story – or any other fascinating story about our historic international students and staff!