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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington


Below you will find a list of specialised and uncommon words and phrases used within 'The Story of Jimmy Durham'. We have provided the definitions of these words and phrases to help you understand their meaning. If you require any additional help please contact us and we will try to assist you.


Army Temperance Association: temperance societies were set up to encourage people not to drink alcohol.

Award of Merit: this would have been in the form of a prize or certificate.

Battalion: part of a regiment; about 1000 men and made up of companies (see The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry).

Boom: a long spar to extend the foot of a sail.

Breech loading rifle: modern type of gun in which the cartridge (bullet and powder) is loaded into the barrel at the breech (bottom) end rather than at the muzzle (top) end.

Brigade: an army unit made up of soldiers from different regiments.

Brigadier: the officer commanding a brigade (see British Army Ranks).

Calibre .43": the diameter of the bullet; in this case just less than 0.5 inches wide.

'...did not remain to try conclusions': this means the Dervishes did not stay to finish the attack.

Digest of Services: summary of a year's service, like a diary.

D.S.O.: Distinguished Service Order, a Medal.

E Coy: a short way to write E Company, a section of a battalion. Companies are often given letters to identify them.

Embarked: started a journey.

Flintlock musket: an old type of gun that used a spark from a flint to light the gunpowder and fire the bullet.

G.C.B.: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, a reward for distinguished service.

Guiness/Ginniss/Ginness: different ways of spelling Ginnis, the place of the battle after which Jimmy was found.

K.C.B.: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, a reward for distinguished service.

K.C.M.G.: Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, a reward for distinguished service.

Lateen: a triangular sail, suspended by a long yard at an angle of 45° to the mast.

Militia: a part-time military force, recruited from a local area, rather than nationally.

Musketry: practice in using a musket, a type of gun used before rifles.

Nuggar: a type of boat used on the River Nile. Read more about nuggars.

N.C.O.: Non Commissioned Officer (see British Army Ranks).

Progenitors: ancestors.

Quarters: living accommodation.

Record of Service: same as a Digest of Services, a diary.

Regiment: an army unit (see The The 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry).

Soudan/Soudanese: different ways of spelling Sudan/Sudanese.

Undress Glengarry: British soldiers had different types of uniforms. Full dress was their best uniform, worn on parades or important occasions. Undress was their ordinary, everyday uniform. The Glengarry is a type of hat still worn today by Scottish soldiers.

Vale of grief and woe: an old fashioned phrase to refer to our life on earth, a Biblical reference; generally it is used in a sarcastic or ironic way.

Vicissitudes: continual or successive changes of circumstances, often for the worse.

'...who for the nonce were working in silence': here, for the nonce, means for the time being. The 21st Century meaning of the word nonce is not appropriate here!

Yard: a spar to extend and support a sail.