James Logan

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James Logan

Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Lurgan, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Death: October 31, 1751 (77)
Germantown, Stenton, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Burial: Arch Street Meetinghouse, 320 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Reverend Patrick Logan and Isabelle Logan
Husband of Sarah Read Logan
Father of William Logan; Hannah Smith; Sarah Norris and James Logan
Brother of Father of Jane (Logan) Mckee Logan and William Logan, M.D.

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About James Logan

The Logan family was prominent in Philadelphia from the start of the province, serving the people in many capacities, including political, medical and literary.

James Logan, the first secretary of the colony under William Penn, was born on October 20, 1674 in Lurgan, Ireland, the son of Patrick and Isabel Hume Logan. His father was a scholar and an Anglican minister until his conversion to Quakerism. James was educated in his father’s school, the Friar Meetinghouse School in Bristol. His early careers included working as a linen draper in 1687, as an assistant schoolmaster to his father from 1690 to 1693, and as the schoolmaster of the Friar Meeting house from 1693 to 1697. From 1697 to 1698, James unsuccessfully worked in the linen trade; however, in 1699, James Logan obtained a career as a secretary for William Penn, who was about to sail for his province of Pennsylvania.

Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, James Logan began his service to Pennsylvania through positions including Secretary of the Province, Receiver-General of Pennsylvania, Member of the Provincial Council, Mayor of Philadelphia, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, President of the Provincial Council and Acting Governor. At the same time, he gained wealth through commerce, trade with Native Americans and land purchases.

James Logan was an intellectual. He was “a linguist of competence in a bewildering number of languages, a classicist who in the margins of his books crossed swords with greatest European editors, and a scientist who described the fertilization of corn by pollen, understood and used the new inventions of calculus, wrote on optics, and made astronomical observations,” ( At the Instance of Benjamin Franklin, page 32). He collected books and arranged for his substantial library consisting of nearly 2,600 volumes, the Loganian Library, to be made public upon his death. The Loganian Library, which was received in trust by the Library Company of Philadelphia, exists almost in its original entirety. According to Edwin Wolf II, historian and past librarian of the Library Company, Logan “brought enthusiasm, erudition, and a good Quaker sense of value to bear on his book purchases, [but was] however, finicky, bad tempered, over pedantic and hard,” (Wolf, page 44)

On December 9, 1714, Logan married Sarah Read Smith, the daughter of Charles and Amy Child Read. James and Sarah became the parents of James, William and Hannah. Three other children, James, Rachel and Charles died as children. Sarah Read Smith Logan died on December 9, 1714 and James Logan died on September 2, 1751 at the age of 77 in his country home, Stenton, which he built in Germantown, Pennsylvania. From the time that James Logan arrived in Philadelphia, he was “an integral part of the history of Pennsylvania,” (Library Company of Philadelphia, page 4). University of Pennsylvania Library


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.

Additional Information

On December 9, 1714, Logan married Sarah Read Smith, the daughter of Charles and Amy Child Read. James and Sarah became the parents of Sarah (1715-1744), William (1718-1776), Hannah (1719/20-1761), and James (1728-1803). Three other children, James, Rachel and Charles, died as children. Sarah Read Smith Logan died on May 17, 1754, and James Logan died in late 1751 at the age of 77 in his country home, Stenton, which he built in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Google Book Link

"Stenton is a property administered by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. James Logan erected this fine example of early Georgian architecture in the countryside near Philadelphia between 1723 and 1730. Logan had come to Philadelphia with William Penn in 1699 as his secretary, and for the rest of his life remained the Penn family’s representative in the colony and at the center of Pennsylvania’s political life. Although now in a densely populated urban area with factories and railroad nearby, Stenton’s present three-acre site preserves significant buildings, landscape, and objects" (via stenton.org).

The Stenton property, situated at the corner of 18th Street and Windrim Avenue, presents incredible opportunities for local history research. James Logan's lands once extended to the land now owned by La Salle University. His descendants developed upon this land; building new properties and acquiring others. Use this guide to find the many connections between Stenton and the history of our grounds at La Salle.

James Logan (1674- 1751), “provincial councilor, scholar, and William Penn's secretary in America, was born in Lurgan, County Armaugh, Ireland, the son of Scottish Quakers Patrick Logan, a minister and teacher, and Isabel Hume. In 1726 Logan moved from Philadelphia to ‘Stenton,’ his large plantation near Germantown, to advance his scholarly pursuits. Logan encouraged the research of John Bartram, Benjamin Franklin, and others and thus helped to give shape to the developing scientific community in Philadelphia. After Logan's death at Stenton, his library of more than 3,000 books was bequeathed to the public and later merged into the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Logan's personal papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania include his letterbooks and several manuscript treatises” (via American National Biography online). LaSalle University

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James Logan's Timeline

October 20, 1674
Lurgan, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Age 40
July 14, 1718
Age 43
Germantown, PA
Age 45
Age 53
Orange County, Virginia, United States
October 31, 1751
Age 77
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States