"FIRST, THE INFANT" 1717-1737
HIS MAJESTY'S speech, upon opening Parliament in the third week of February 1717, dwelt with satisfaction upon the Treaty of Utrecht, "the happy consequences of which have already very sensibly appeared by the flourishing condition of our trade and credit". George I had hoped that the putting down of the late Rebellion in Scotland ("the Pretender is actually Removed beyond the Alps") might have so far secured the tranquillity of his kingdom as to justify him in a considerable reduction of the Forces. But the safety of his people was not as yet certain. Invasion still threatened. Soldiers and war-like supplies were still absolutely necessary for the defence of the realm.
Home Defence and Invasion were always good cards in the hand of a recruiting officer, and a Lieutenant in Colonel James Tyrrell's Regiment of Dragoons, ordered from Lichfield to Hereford on this duty, took up his quarters in the Angel Inn quite cheerfully. Hereford boasted a romantic ruined castle, a stately cathedral, and town walls pierced by six old gates. Its streets were well paved, and handsome as to breadth and length; the river Wye was pronounced by Londoners as wide as the Thames--at least at Maidenhead. It was in flood now, and thick and yellow, but said to contain very fine salmon. The surrounding district was a promising recruiting ground, particularly in the dark months of winter. It was pre-eminently agricultural, rich in fields of wheat and barley, hop-gardens and cider orchards. It had always been of strategic importance, owing to its proximity to the Welsh marches. It produced a strong, solid type of young man.
Sergeants and men of a recruiting party were chosen, understandably, by reason of their savoir-faire and military bearing, and the officer in charge of Tyrrell's dragoons was undoubtedly a gentleman, and with very pleasing manners. Given a few more inches, he must have been the beau idéal of a dashing cavalryman, and fatal to the peace of mind of the spinsters of a cathedral city. But he was not quite tall enough, and he was very much married. His party included his lady, his Arabella. At first sight it seemed something inhuman to have brought her right across England in such weather,