phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: A half-pay Major of Marines

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 09, 2003

In Reply to: Re: A half-pay Major of Marines posted by masakim on December 09, 2003

: : : I just read a Sherlock Holmes story in which a man was described as "a half-pay Major of Marines". Does that mean he retired early from the Marines, and so took a half pension rather than a full pension? I am planning on reading the story aloud to my 9-year-old, and I'd like to be able to explain what that means. Thanks for any confirmation anyone can provide.

: : Some military people, if placed on standby because of little need for them, eg a ship's captain with no current ship, would, in the old days, be put on half pay. I'm not sure whether this was still so in Holmes' time, but it's a possibility, especially for a Marine.

: Julia went there at Chrustmas two years ago, and met there a half-pay Major of Marines, to whom she became engaged. ["The Adventure of the Speckled Band"]
: half-pay. The reduced pay of an army or navy officer when he is not on active service.
: From _The Annotated Sherlock Holmes_ by William S. Baring-Gould
: ----------
: The Dutch having called in their fleete and paid their men half-pay. (Pepys, _Diary_, Nov 30, 1664)
: Half-pay captains and half-witted beaux. (Somerville, _Poems_, 1727)
: The half-pays have come over in great force. (_Pall Mall_, Aug 21, 1865)

Thanks, guys. Come to think of it, an annotated version of Sherlock Holmes sounds like the ticket. I do plan on reading some more stories.