When young Ned Farrier is committed to the Shadwell Workhouse, he is thrust into a regime of harsh punishment and corruption orchestrated by the local Beadle, who has spent years enriching himself at the expense of widows and orphans, making several enemies in the process.
Beadle Hewlett has earmarked Ned and his friends George and Ben as prime recruits for his unsavoury trade, but a daring plan triggers a chain of events that ultimately leads to their finding a new life on the sailing barges that ply the Thames Estuary.
Meanwhile, Mick Howell, Ex-Master’s Mate of the British Royal Navy, is determined to avenge his brother’s suffering at the hands of the Beadle’s partners in crime. Mick and his friends join forces with the Reverend Mr Short, Rector of St Anne’s Limehouse, to bring the Beadle and his cohorts to justice and to help his victims build new lives.
The East End of London in the early 1830s provides the background to this thrilling tale of hardship, criminal activity, determination and courage.