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British Industrial History

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Peter Roget

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was a physician and philologist, and the compiler of Roget's Thesaurus.

1779 Peter Mark Roget was born in Broad Street, Soho, London, on 18 January. He was the only son of the Swiss John Roget, a pastor, and his wife, Catherine, of Huguenot descent.

1783 Roget's father died. His mother was supported by her family and by her brother in particular, but she seemed unsettled and spent her time at various seaside resorts and spas. As a result, Roget had a discontinuous early education, but he had an inquisitive mind and was motivated to learn many subjects on his own. He could speak French well, and read Latin, German, and Italian.

1793 The family moved to Edinburgh and, at the age of fourteen, Roget entered Edinburgh University to study medicine.

1795 Roget toured the Scottish highlands with his uncle Samuel, caught typhus while on the infirmary wards but recovered and returned to his studies.

In his last year of medical studies he developed a chest illness thought to be consumption, but he again recovered quickly under his mother's care.

1798 He graduated on 25 June with a thesis, De chemicae affinitatis legibus and had a long-standing interest in chemistry.

He went to London and attended lectures in the medical schools from prominent medical and surgical figures such as Matthew Baillie, William Cruikshank, Robert Willan, William Heberden, and James Wilson.

1808-40 He practiced in London.

1814 He invented a logo-logarithmic (“log-log”) slide rule for calculating the roots and powers of numbers.

1827 Roget, William Brande, and Thomas Telford were commissioned by the government to study London's water supply. On 30 November, he succeeded Sir John Herschel, the astronomer and physicist, as secretary of the Royal Society.

1834 Roget was appointed Fuller professor of physiology at the Royal Institution.

1840 Roget retired from medical practice, but kept busy with his other interests.

1846 He was working hard on a project he had devised more than forty years before, a work that would make him a household name a century and a half later, his Thesaurus. He was sixty-one when he began to concentrate on the thesaurus; he worked on it full time between 1849 and 1852 and completed it aged seventy-three.

1869 Cared for by his daughter Kate, at the age of ninety-one he joined her on their annual holiday in West Malvern, Worcestershire. He became ill during a heat wave and died on 12 September.

  • 1870 Obituary [1]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
  • [2] Oxford DNB