The residents of 18 Upper Bedford place in London in 1851 were the widowed Head of the Household, who was a retired Physician, his son, his sister, a visitor plus four servants consisting of a footman, a cook, a housemaid and a ladies maid. The reference is HO107, piece 1507, folio 182, page 33 – in case you want to take a peek.
The retired physician was a 72-year-old who, far from being a gentleman of leisure, was working hard at lexicography. This was Peter Mark Roger, who first published his thesaurus the following year today, 29th April 1852. Having suffered from depression for a large part of his life, Roger found that by making lists, whilst categorising and classifying items, helped him to deal with this. He started compiling his thesaurus back in 1805 and his lists of words, synonyms and antonyms were more comprehensive than any others that had been made previously. Even though one critic stated that the “Thesaurus of Words and Phrases” would never become useful, this first edition quickly sold out – along with subsequent editions. In fact, the Thesaurus has never been out of print since 1852 and it is estimated to have sold over 30 million copies worldwide. One of those copies is sitting on my bookshelf behind me.
So, the next time that you need a different word, think of Roget's Thesaurus.