Official dedication of memorial to James Logan

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The James Logan memorial was officially dedicated on 20 October 2009 in front of the High Court building in Penang.


Photos by Anil and Logan family

Some Penang residents might know James Logan as a colonial-era lawyer (who took up the cause of the underdog against officialdom) and newspaper proprietor. Few, however, realise that he was also a brilliant geologist who coined the term Indonesia. James and his brother Abraham are buried at the same spot in the Protestant Cemetery nearby.

Among those involved in the dedication were “the doyen of the Penang Bar” Lim Kean Chye, High Court Judge John Louis O’Hara, representatives of the Penang Bar, the new Penang Heritage Trust president Khoo Salma Nasution and other heritage activists.

The last three photos in the slideshow above are of Abraham’s grandson, Robert A Logan (1900-1994), who was head of the English College in Johor Bahru.

Adding colour to the occasion, Abraham Logan’s descendants travelled all the way from KL, Johor and Australia to attend the event. Among the family members standing in front of the memorial are Robert’s son George from JB, Robert’s grandchildren including Irene (in blue), who is carrying on the family tradition as a lawyer working with the Australian police, great-grandchildren and others present standing next to the memorial.

Who exactly was James Logan?

Logan, James Richardson (1819–1869), lawyer and newspaper proprietor, was born at Hutton Hall, Berrywell, Berwickshire, on 10 April 1819, the son of a gentleman farmer, Thomas Logan, and his wife, Elizabeth.

A clever ‘extra scholar’ at Duns Academy, he trained with an Edinburgh barrister, and after a short spell planting indigo in Bengal moved to Penang in 1839, where he was admitted as an advocate in December 1841. His elder brother Abraham followed him to Penang and was admitted to the bar in April 1842, but soon moved to Singapore , where James joined him in partnership the following year. The brothers were to work closely together for nearly thirty years and were buried in the same grave. Abraham became editor-proprietor of Singapore ‘s premier newspaper, the Singapore Free Press, secretary to the chamber of commerce, member of numerous public committees, and a champion of constitutional reform.

In 1853 the more studious and reserved James returned to practise law in Penang, where he was made a justice of the peace and was much in demand as a lucid petition writer, an effective leader of deputations, and as a legal spokesman for the European and Chinese communities in opposing irksome official restrictions.

In 1855 the brothers bought the Pinang Gazette, with James as editor, and their newspapers became particularly influential in the absence of representative institutions. In powerful editorials James argued Penang’s case, criticizing dictatorial East India Company and government of India officials, championing free trade, and urging strong policies to protect commerce in the Malay states and Sumatra .

James Logan died in Penang at the home of his son Daniel, the solicitor-general, on 20 October 1869. His funeral that same day was attended by the entire European community and leading Asians; he was buried in the protestant cemetery, Penang, and a monument was erected in front of the supreme court by open subscription lamenting his untimely death as a public calamity: ‘Unselfish to a degree he spared neither time nor money to promote Penang’s welfare’.

But Logan ‘s most lasting memorial was his Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, always known popularly as Logan ‘s journal. A fellow of the Geological Society of London, a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and corresponding member of the Ethnological Society (of London) and the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, Logan contributed articles to prestigious journals of learned societies in London, Edinburgh, Calcutta, and Batavia.

His own journal, the first attempt to promote a scientific periodical in the Straits Settlements at a time when most of the Malay peninsula was unexplored by Europeans, was unique in being conceived, edited, and financed single-handedly. Logan drew on the considerable expertise of officials, clergy, naval and military officers, lawyers, doctors, surveyors, businessmen, and planters of diverse nationalities, including one prominent Chinese merchant, while he himself contributed articles on a wealth of subjects: geology, exploration, piracy, Malay customs, aboriginal peoples, ethnology, and comparative philology.

An indefatigable, ever inquisitive traveller, Logan braved hardship and often danger, which undermined his health. Sometimes he returned a living skeleton, fever-racked with malaria, which eventually killed him. Twelve volumes of Logan ‘s journal were published between 1847 and 1859, until waning public enthusiasm and financial strain impelled Logan to abandon the journal and concentrate on public causes and the Pinang Gazette.

But Logan ‘s enterprise inspired the formation in 1878 of the straits (later Malaysian) branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, with Daniel Logan as first vice-president, and the new society obtained a government grant to buy Logan ‘s library. In his inaugural address, the president pledged to continue Logan ‘s work, while avoiding the mistake of trying to carry the burden alone. While most of his geological and linguistic research was superseded or updated, Logan ‘s journal remained of lasting interest to historians and anthropologists and the entire series was reprinted in 1970.

Source: C. M. Turnbull, ‘Logan, James Richardson (1819–1869)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

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Andrew Hwang

We seem to have forgotten Frederick John Caunters Ross, the managing partner of the law firm Messrs. Logan & Ross. F J C Ross had taken over the Logan brothers’ law practice in 1874. Ross Road was named after him. One of the direct descendants of F J C Ross still lives in Kuala Lumpur. The Ross family is also related to the Caunter, Scott and Brown families of Penang. F J C Ross’s son, Balfour Earl Ross took over the law firm but was imprisoned by the Japanese and died in Penang Gaol in 1942. The law firm of… Read more »

wendy tan

Hi my name is Wendy and I have been married to a Penang Chinese fellow. for over 30yrs. We live in u.k. but return often to Penang and I try to visit the Protestant cemetery where the Logan Brothers grave sits.I pick the fallen Frangipani flower petals and place 8 on the grave. It is just a small headstone weathered and worn and I wonder if the family ever visit it? I am from Newcastle in u.k. just south of Berwick where the Logan Brothers were born (Hutton Hall).In my nursing home we had a 90 plus years old lady… Read more »

Janelle Tompsett

Its great to come across this and many other pages on James Richardson Logan I MAY???? be related in some way and would like to get in contact with living decendants to find out more of the family history. I was born a Logan in Australia and my great grandfather was born in the same area as J R Logan with a father who was a farmer and named Thomas and my grandfathers brother was also James Richardson Logan so if someone could contact me it would be great
Thanks Janelle

Anne Leong

Hello Janelle,

This is Anne, great, great grand daughter of Abraham Logan, the brother of James R. Logan. We were told by my grandfather Robert Abraham Logan that we have a branch of the Logan family in Adelaide. There was also mention of a jam factory there.

Do you belong to this branch of the family? It will be wonderful to hear from you..

With best regards,
Anne

Alison Lewis-Nicholson

Hi Anne
I was fascinated to read this article as I and my brother are descendants of the Logans who stayed in Scotland. We had found information about James and Abraham and their lives in Penang and Singapore but got no further. We are !st cousins x 4 removed
I would love to have further contact and exchange information if you are still interested,
Kind regards
Alison

Alison Lewis-Nicholson

Hi
I am living in Australia and am 1st cousin four times removed from James and Abraham Logan. Our descendants were the ones who stayed in Scotland. I would be happy to share information of what I know about the family.
As it is a few years now you may not have the immediate interest as when you wrote in 2010 but if you do please contact me,
Kind regards
Alison

Alvin

Greetings from Australia! Thank you for the above informative article! My wife and my children are direct decendants of JR Logan (my wife’s 3x Great grandfather on her paternal side)! I have been collating information for the family tree and am delighted to stumble upon this article. We are travelling to Penang in the coming months and would be most appreciative of further information about the family (Daniel Logan etc). There is apparently an exsisting portrait of JR Logan in Penang and we would be most grateful of details of its whereabouts.It would be a bonus to be put in… Read more »

Shamil

Alvin,

I have in my possession few Indenture of Statutory Mortgage witnessed by “Daniel Logan” while he was the Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements in 1908.

Anne Leong

Dear Alvin,

We were told by our grandfather, Robert Abraham Logan that a branch of the Logan family moved to Adelaide. Do you and your family by any chance belong to that branch. Abraham Logan, elder brother of James Richardson Logan, was my great, great grandfather.
We would like very much to meet up with you and the rest of the family.

Anne Leong Logan

Ian Logan Richardson

Hi Anne, I’m very interested in Robert Abraham Logan’s history. I am currently researching for a book on my parent’s history in Johore Bahru, 1936 thru 1945. My father, Louis Alexander Logan Richardson, ( no, I’m sure there in no relationship with your Logans even though they came from Durham, below Northumberland and Scotland) spent three & a half years as a POW in Singapore. He was the Johore Parks & Gardens Superintendent and principally looked after the Sultan of Johore’s palace gardens. We lived not far from the Istana Besar. The English School was in this area also I… Read more »

Alison Lewis-Nicholson

Hi
My brother and I have been building up our Mothers family history over the years. We are first cousins four times removed of James and Abraham Logan.
I live in Australia and my brother is still in Edinburgh.. We were delighted to stumble across this article as we had traced James and Abraham but got no further with descendants.
If you are still interested and would like to contact me I would be happy to exchange information
Kind regards
Alison