Mr. Bumble is a town beadle, a minor church official, and his responsibilities include running all of the parish's charitable institutions. These include the baby farm, where Oliver Twist is raised as an infant, and the workhouse, where Bumble assigns Oliver to work when the boy turns 9 years old. Bumble is proud of the special cocked hat he wears to show off his status as beadle. He loves the power he holds, and doesn't hesitate to use it as he beats and abases the children.
Oliver and the other boys who work in the workhouse are issued three not-so-hearty meals a day. When Oliver asks for more, it is Bumble who enthusiastically rats out the boy to the members of the board, who are aghast at Oliver's audacity and threaten dire consequences for him.