James Logan (1674 - 1751)

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Birthplace: Ireland
Death: Died
Managed by: Lori Wilke
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Immediate Family

About James Logan


James Logan (October 20, 1674 – October 31, 1751), a statesman and scholar, was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland, of Scottish descent and Quaker parentage. In 1689, the Logan family moved to Bristol, England where, in 1693, James replaced his father as schoolmaster. In 1699, he came to the colony of Pennsylvania aboard the Canterbury as William Penn's secretary.

Later, he supported proprietary rights in Pennsylvania. After advancing through several political offices, including commissioner of property (1701), receiver general (1703), clerk (1701), and member (1703) of the provincial council, he was elected Mayor of Philadelphia in 1722. During his tenure as mayor, Logan allowed Irish Catholic immigrants to participate in the city's first public Mass. He later served as the colony's chief justice from 1731 to 1739, and in the absence of a governor of Pennsylvania, became acting governor from 1736 to 1738.

He opposed Quaker pacifism and war tax resistance, and encouraged pacifist Quakers to give up their seats in the Pennsylvania Assembly so that it could make war requisitions.

Meanwhile, he engaged in various mercantile pursuits, especially fur trading, with such success that he became one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. He collected a personal library of over 3,000 volumes. He wrote numerous scholarly papers published by the American Philosophical Society and European journals.

Logan was also a natural scientist whose primary contribution to the emerging field of botany was a treatise that described experiments on the impregnation of plant seeds, especially corn. He tutored John Bartram, the American botanist, in Latin and introduced him to Linnaeus. He was also a mentor of Benjamin Franklin, who published Logan's translation of Cicero's essay "Cato Maior de Senectute".

Logan died in 1751 and was buried at the site of Arch Street Friends Meeting House (built in 1804).

In Philadelphia, the Logan neighborhood and the landmark Logan Square are named for him. His 1730 estate "Stenton" (now a National Historic Landmark, operated as a museum) is located in Logan area.

The Loganian Library

James Logan, who was known by his peers as “the best Judge of Books in these parts,” donated his private collection of over 3,000 books to the Loganian Library, which, in 1792, was incorporated into the Library Company of Philadelphia.

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James Logan's Timeline

July 14, 1718
Age 44
Germantown, PA
Age 46
Age 77