Abraham Logan (b. 31 August 1816, Hattan Hall, Berwickshire, Scotland‒d. 20 December 1873, Penang, Straits Settlements) was a leading lawyer in Singapore, as well as the one-time owner and editor of The Singapore Free Press newspaper.1 He was involved in the historic transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Colonial Office on 1 April 1867.2
Armed with a law degree from Edinburgh University, Logan and his younger brother, James Richardson Logan, arrived in Penang in February 1839. With a few months of legal practice under their belts, both brothers subsequently left for Singapore. In September 1842, Abraham Logan placed an advertisement in the Singapore newspapers to announce that he had begun practice as a Law Agent and Notary Public. From 1842 till 1853, he practiced in Singapore alongside James. His law firm was then located at Battery Road. After James returned to Penang in 1853, Logan practiced alone in Singapore until he was joined by Thomas Braddell in 1862. The firm of Logan and Braddell continued until 1867, when Braddell became Attorney-General and Logan gave up his practice.3
Besides his job as a lawyer, Logan was also deeply involved in public life. He played an active role in the transfer of the Straits Settlements from the India Office to the Colonial Office on 1 April 1867.4 He had been a committee member for the appeal to the British Parliament between 1857 and 1862, and in 1864, was part of the committee which wrote the critical financial and administrative reports for the Commissioner’s review of the transfer.5 In 1855, The Straits Times newspaper implored the establishment of a Reform League to advocate sweeping changes to the colonial administration.6 Despite the rejection of the motion to break away from Indian rule, Logan, William H. Read, Robin Woods and Joaquim d’Almeida remained dedicated to the cause. With the help of contacts in London, the group held negotiations with the British government and secured the transfer successfully.7
Logan was also secretary to the Singapore Chamber of Commerce for 21 years until his retirement in 1869.8 He advocated constitutional and judicial reforms to the Straits Settlements administration, particularly during the 1850s and 1860s. He was part of several committees where he was involved in petitioning to the British government on economic concerns of the colony, such as currency matters, the sending of convicts to Singapore, income tax and the opposition of the implementation of the Stamp Act.9
The Singapore Library was established in 1844, with Logan and his brother, James Richardson Logan, among its first shareholders.10 Logan was part of the committee managing the library, along with others such as William Napier and H. C. Caldwell. The Logan brothers were involved in the committee that drew up rules and regulations, including the procurement of objects, for the museum section of the library, which was established in 1849. Logan also donated books to the library.11
In addition to the library, Logan was involved in journalism and the press. In 1843, he became the editor of The Singapore Free Press and remained in this post with the paper until early 1865.12 Logan officially became the proprietor of the Free Press on 1 November 1848 by purchasing it from W. R. George. The paper’s office was relocated from High Street to No. 1 Malacca Street shortly after the change in ownership.13 As the proprietor and editor of the Free Press, Logan has been credited for establishing high journalistic standards in the colony and for voicing the need for change in legislative and administrative matters.14
Logan was also in a committee set up in 1846 to form a local Presbyterian congregation and to secure the services of a Presbyterian clergyman.15
Logan lived at Mount Pleasant on Thomson Road. He died in Penang on 20 December 1873.16
Brother: James Richardson Logan17
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Bonny Tan
1. C. M. Turnbull, A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 2009), 85 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]); Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E. Brooke and Roland St. J. Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, vol. 1 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991), 195–96, 198. (Call no. RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
2. Turnbull, History of Modern Singapore, 89.
3. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 195–96.
4. Turnbull, History of Modern Singapore, 85, 89; Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 755. (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 198; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 773.
6. “Untitled,” Straits Times, 3 July 1855, 7; “Straits Settlements Charges,” Straits Times, 7 August 1855, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Turnbull, History of Modern Singapore, 89; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 755, 771.
8. “Untitled,” Straits Times Overland Journal, 21 December 1869, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 197–98; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 597, 668.
10. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 419.
11. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 524, 528, 533.
12. “Mr Logan,” Straits Times, 7 January 1865, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Page 2 Advertisements Column 3,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 21 December 1848, 2. (From NewspaperSG); Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 499.
14. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 597, 668, 680, 694, 755, 771, 773; “Mr Logan.”
15. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 197; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 453.
16. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 196.
17. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, 195.
The information in this article is valid as at April 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.