Before he went for a Marine, Symon Higgins was a farmer like his father and grandfather. He and his brother inherited the small piece of land from their father and worked it together, until two bad harvests and a series of quarrels between Higgins and another farmer over boundaries led the gentleman who owned the land to decide that, as the aggressor in most of the disputes was Higgins, eviction of the problem was the surest answer. Higgins was given a day to clear off the little farm and make his own way somewhere else.
He managed to find work in a butcher's shop in Langport proper, until subtle pressure from his former landlord cost him this job. There were few other good opportunities for work in the town and Higgins was eventually obliged to try his luck in Somerton, where he chanced upon a Marine recruiting party. They were from the Plymouth Division and having no better option, Higgins enlisted. He was packed off to Plymouth with four other recruits, where he stayed only a month before being sent to Chatham to help make up the numbers of a Marine detachment aboard a ship preparing to return to sea. It was a whirlwind series of changes that, even at the age of twenty-two, he found bewildering and difficult.
This first ship was HMS Alcmene, 32, which was doing duty on the Channel Islands station. From there, she went to Ireland, where she was when Higgins left her as part of the prize crew for Courier. He returned to Chatham and was fortunate to spend a complete two months there before being ordered to join the guard aboard a prison hulk. It was a distasteful duty, to say the least, and Higgins had to tolerate it as best he could for over a year until he was sent back ashore to take up duties at Chatham Dockyard. Another year passed before he got to sea again, this time aboard HMS Terpsichore, 32.
On the whole, Higgins is a steady and reliable Marine. His drill is sharp and his turnout is generally smart. The years he spent ashore at Chatham were not wasted. Higgins does have a temper though and there are a lot of things that can provoke it. Growing up rough and tumble in the country has given him a certain ingrained willingness to fight even when it isn't necessary - and Higgins is a man who likes a fight, whether it's fisticuffs or a boarding action. In his defence, he's an excellent fellow to have on side when there's a battle, because he's a very difficult force to stop once his blood is up.
He can make friends just about as easily as he makes enemies, since he never was one for tact or diplomacy. If he's thinking it, most of the time it's going to come out of his mouth. That's just how he is. Unfettered honesty can be hard to take and Higgins has rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way in the past because of it. He can usually at least filter the worst of his remarks when addressing a ranking Marine but he's been in trouble a time or two as a result of his sharp and ready tongue.
For an ex-farmer, Higgins is not terribly sturdy-looking. He's rather more lean than he is stout. In fact, he isn't very remarkable physically at all. Except, of course, for his round baby face. It's easy to assume he's younger than he truly is.