James Logan

Logan, James, a statesman, secretary to William Penn, was born at Lurgan, 20th October 1674.[37a] His parents were members of the Society of Friends. Although apprenticed to a Dublin linen-draper, he appears to have received a good classical and mathematical education, and to have acquired a knowledge of modern languages not common at the period. The War of 1689-'91 obliged him to follow his parents, first to Edinburgh, and then to London and Bristol. He appears to have been engaged in teaching for some years. In 1698 he was trading between Dublin and Bristol, when his co-religionist William Penn, who had heard of his abilities, induced him to accompany him to Pennsylvania as his secretary. The passage occupied three months, from September to December 1699.

In 1701 Penn returned to England, leaving Logan, then but twenty-six years of age, virtually in sole charge of his interests. As Penn wrote: "I have left thee in an uncommon trust, with a singular dependence on thy justice and care, which I expect thou wilt faithfully employ in advancing my honest interest." The judgment of the proprietor of Pennsylvania was not mistaken. Logan displayed the greatest capacity for business, the most statesman-like qualities, and the sincerest loyalty, not only to William Penn, but after his death to his widow and children. He served many years for a stipend of about £100 per annum; yet he was Chief-Justice of the State, Provincial Secretary, and Commissioner of Property, and for nearly two years governed the province as President of the Council. The difficulties of his position were at times very great — what between the jealousies of parties, the conflicting interests between the Quakers and other bodies, the dissolute character of Penn's eldest son, and the necessity for forwarding sums to England to relieve Penn's monetary difficulties.

Logan's treatment of the Indians was singularly wise and considerate, and they ever regarded him as their best friend. He visited England in 1710, where he successfully vindicated himself from charges brought against him by a faction in the assembly. James Logan did not retire from public life until about 1747. Thenceforward, living in dignified leisure at Stenton, near Germantown, he devoted himself to literature, translated Cicero, and penned those scientific papers which will be found appended to his Memoirs. Some of his works were printed by his friend Benjamin Franklin. He died at Stenton, 31st October 1751, aged 77, and was interred in Friends' burial-ground, Arch-street, Philadelphia. He bequeathed his valuable classical library to the city of Philadelphia. Logan is described as "tall and well-proportioned, with a graceful yet grave demeanour. He had a good complexion, and was quite florid, even in old age; nor did his hair, which was brown, turn grey in the decline of life, nor his eyes require spectacles." His son, William, who survived until 1801, was for many years in the Governor's Council; and his grandson, George Logan, M.D., was a United States senator and a distinguished philanthropist.


37a. Biographical Dictionary—American Biography: Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1876.

216. Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, Revised and Enlarged by Mervyn Archdall. 7 vols. Dublin, 1789.