Joseph Merceron, the Godfather of Regency London

Meet Joseph Merceron, the Boss of Bethnal Green – the Regency overlord who set the template for criminality and corrupt politics in the East End…


The Boss of Bethnal Green

Praise for The Boss of Bethnal Green

‘…more than just a picture of a narcissistic personality with no regard whatsoever for the truth, interesting and apposite to our own times though that may be. The author has understood the wider social crisis underlying the chaos… This is a fine book…deserves to become a standard work on a London district which is still, today, subject to several sorts of threat…’ Gillian Tindall, TLS (click for full review).

‘…a most handsome “life and times” biography, which shows just what the historians have been missing… Julian Woodford has done an extraordinary job in teasing out what it is possible to know about his subject…as an exercise in retrieving the irretrievable, Woodford’s Boss of Bethnal Green could hardly be bettered.’ Jerry White, The Times (click for full review).

‘[Merceron] …operated out of Brick Lane like a prototype Kray brother. His ruthless greed and thirst for power are described with real narrative verve and a suitably appalled eye.’ Evening Standard, ‘Best London books of 2016‘ (click for full review).

‘Apart from being a superb and informative read, the book is very nicely constructed. Beautifully designed and peppered with well-chosen photos, illustrations and portraits, all where they belong in relation to the text… a fascinating and impeccably-researched account. It is sensational without being sensationalist, which is what makes it such a gripping read. It’s everything an accessible history book should be and I commend it to you.’ London Historians, ‘Best books of 2016’ (click for full review).

‘Ten years in the making, The Boss of Bethnal Green is essential reading for anyone interested in the criminal and political histories of our city, and how the two interweave.’ Hackney Citizen (click for full review).

‘Not only has [Julian Woodford] exposed the East End’s vilest gangster – Joseph Merceron, who hid in history’s shadows until now – but he has also tracked down…a pistol fired in a royal assassination attempt…a thrilling biography.’ Love East magazine (click for full review).

‘This is an excellent book and a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the historical development of London’s East End… The author’s accessible style and pacing – the book in parts reads more like a thriller than a historical biography – conceal the depth of original research and scholarship. He has a particular gift for bringing together both the detail of how Merceron got, misused and kept power for so long and the big picture of a turbulent London during and after the Napoleonic wars, perhaps its time of greatest change. Amazon customer (click for reviews).

Other Social Media reviews

What people are saying about The Boss of Bethnal Green on Social Media

The Boss of Bethnal Green, Joseph Merceron the Godfather of Regency London

From the publisher:

‘In his compelling and eloquent new biography, Julian Woodford uncovers the breathtakingly appalling life of Joseph Merceron (1764 -1839), gangster and corrupt magistrate, who accumulated enormous wealth while presiding over the creation of the poorest slums in Georgian London.

Ruling Spitalfields and Bethnal Green from his house in Brick Lane for half a century, he gave the East End the bad reputation that still lingers today, and the exploits of recent gangsters and political miscreants pale by comparison with Joseph Merceron’s staggering violence and ruthlessness.

Julian Woodford’s shrewd biography — the first on this subject — is essential reading for all those interested in eighteenth century London, anyone fascinated by the capital’s criminal history and everyone who loves an exciting true story well told.’

THE BOSS OF BETHNAL GREEN is published and sold online by Spitalfields Life Books and also from Amazon, Waterstones and all good bookstores and online sellers.

More about ‘The Boss of Bethnal Green’

Join author Julian Woodford for a virtual stroll around the East End in the footsteps of Joseph Merceron (video by Sebastian Sharples):

See also the following articles on the Spitalfields Life blog:

The Boss of Bethnal Green

In Search of the Boss of Bethnal Green

Julian Woodford, Author and Digital Flâneur

A One-Way Ticket to Sydney

A Stick-Up at Six-Mile-Stone

At the Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square

James Hadfield’s Pistol