Local government in the mid-nineteenth century was a highly visible government. The meaning of local administration of law and statute was plain to see: the policeman appointed as poor law relieving officer moving vagrants towards the tramp ward; the vagrant ward housed in the same building as the police station and the magistrates’ court in some cities; the common lodging house inspected not by an officer of local government, but by the superintendent of local police. We need to be able to understand something of what people on the tramp through Cambridge, issued with a ticket to the vagrant ward by the desk sergeant at the central police office, understood of the relationship between local government and the ordering of life within local communities.