In the first edition of his Dictionary of the English Language (1755) the term lexicographer is defined by Samuel Johnson as a ‘harmless drudge that busies himself in … detailing the signification of words’. A dunce, in other words. Really?
Born in New York, George Washington Matsell was the son of an immigrant family from Helhoughton (near Fakenham), Norfolk. His father ran a bookshop on Broadway. Following in his footsteps, George opened up his own premises on Chatham Street, Manhattan (renamed Park Row in 1886). A man of words (in 1866 he acquired ownership of the National Police Gazette), he also took an interest in matters of law and order. He became a magistrate in 1840 and was appointed the first Commissioner of the New York City Police Department after its formation in 1844. [Read more…] about Words From Underground: Madness and the OED