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A half-pay Major of Marines

Posted by Masakim on December 09, 2003

In Reply to: A half-pay Major of Marines posted by James Briggs 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)