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Posted by ESC on December 11, 2003

In Reply to: WOW? posted by Dr Watson on December 11, 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.

: : : I just bought the complete works. Haven't started on it yet though.

: : The complete works. I've never thought of doing that. What an excellent idea. Now look what you've started me on ESC. Still, there are worse ways to be led astray.

: Please don't start that infernal gossip about Mr Holmes and myself. Why my wife put up with him I do not know. The Jonathon Creek of his day, he was - a most erudite man.

I LOVE Jonathon Creek. They've shown a few episodes on BBC America.