Logan, James Richardson (DNB00)

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LOGAN, JAMES RICHARDSON (d. 1869), scientific writer, was bred to the law, and went out between 1830 and 1840 to the Straits Settlements, finally settling at Penang, Prince of Wales's Island. His ability at once gave him a leading position among the colonists, and he was able to render very great services to the then struggling settlement. It was he who, by an urgent demonstration of the facts, induced Lord Palmerston to resist the encroachments of the Dutch upon the west coast of Sumatra, and by a cogent ‘Petition’ to the Peninsular and Oriental Company prevailed upon that firm to maintain direct communication between Penang and this country. One of his last public services was the exposure in the ‘Penang Gazette’ of the dangerous methods of the secret societies which had for a long time been the bane of the Straits.

Logan's first important scientific publication was a paper ‘On the local and relative Geology of Singapore, including Notices of Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, &c.,’ written in 1846, and printed in the ‘Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal’ (vol. xvi.; republished in Trübner's Oriental Series, ‘Essays relating to Indo-China,’ ii. 64). His chief other papers are: ‘The Rocks of Pulohbin,’ in vol. xxii. of the ‘Verhandelingen van het Bataafsche Genootschap,’ 1846. Notices of the geology of the straits of Singapore, in the ‘Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,’ 1851, vol. vii.; and a ‘Journal of an Excursion from Singapore to Malacca and Pinang,’ in vol. xvi. of the Geological Society's ‘Journal.’ Logan also started and edited for about ten years the ‘Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia,’ printed first at the Singapore mission press in 1847. In 1857 he collected several of his numerous papers in the ‘Journal,’ and issued them in eight parts, under the title of ‘The Languages [and Ethnology] of the Indian Archipelago.’ The work, which treats not only of the classification and structure of the languages (together with a study of dialects and materials for a vocabulary), but also of the physical characteristics, the ethnic boundaries, and the origin, development, and changes of spiritualism within the region specified, is an important contribution to anthropological knowledge. Logan subsequently started and edited the ‘Penang Gazette,’ a journal which in his hands became an acknowledged authority on Indian matters. He died at Penang on 20 Oct. 1869, at which time he was notary public of the supreme court of the island. After his death it was decided to erect a monument to commemorate his important services.

Logan was a member of the Asiatic Society, and an honorary member of the Ethnological and Geological Societies of Great Britain. He was succeeded in the editorship of the ‘Penang Gazette’ by his son, Alexander Logan.

[Penang Argus, 21 and 28 Oct. 1869; Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. vii.; Athenæum, 1869, ii. 820; Logan's Works in British Museum Library.]

T. S.