Benjamin Franklin Papers

Deed of Trust for the Loganian Library, 28 August 1754

Deed of Trust for the Loganian Library

DS: Library Company of Philadelphia

As early as March 1745 James Logan had decided to give his library to the people of Philadelphia, and executed a deed of trust for the purpose.9 Soon afterwards he began the erection of a suitable building on Sixth Street to house his collection. Later he became dissatisfied with some provisions of the deed of trust, canceled it, and began the preparation of a new one, which, however, he never completed because of serious illness. He died, October 31, 1751, and after some delay his heirs1 executed a deed of trust in which they named seven trustees, including Franklin, to carry out Logan’s intentions. This instrument, some 8000 words long, recites in detail and often verbatim several earlier documents which reveal Logan’s plans and make clear the sources of income he intended to provide for the library’s support. It bears, somewhat inaccurately, the title “Deed of Trust Respecting Land in Buck County, Granted for Supporting the Loganian Library.”2

August 28, 1754

Abstract: An indenture, dated Aug. 28, 1754, between William Logan and James Logan, sons of James Logan deceased, and his son-in-law John Smith, Logan’s executors, together with Hannah Smith, his surviving daughter, all of the first part; and Israel Pemberton, Jr., William Allen, Richard Peters, and Benjamin Franklin, all of the second part.3 By his last will, dated Nov. 25, 1749, James Logan had reserved from his bequest of certain Philadelphia lots to his son James the land on which his library had been built; had provided that if either of his granddaughters, Mary and Sarah Norris, died before attaining her majority, his £1000 bequest to her was to be invested in rents for the maintenance of the library; and had requested Richard Peters to assist in arranging his books in it. By an instrument of settlement, dated March 8, 1745, he had assigned certain Philadelphia ground rents for library maintenance and had prescribed rules for its operation, but had later canceled this instrument and begun the preparation of a new one which remained unfinished when he was incapacitated by “the dead Palsy.” William Penn had granted to Logan, Nov. 3, 1701, a tract of 596¾ acres in Solebury Township, Bucks County, which Logan had in turn granted in two parcels to Jonathan Ingham and Jacob Dean, May 1 and 26, respectively, 1750, with elaborate provisions (here recited) for rents, which were to be revalued periodically forever. By 1761 these rents would amount to £35 sterling per annum.

By the unfinished new instrument of settlement he had proposed to convey the library building and land, his books, and the rents of the Bucks County tract to William and James Logan, Smith, Pemberton, Allen, Peters, and Franklin, as trustees. William Logan was to be the first librarian and upon his death the office was to pass to his eldest son and his male heirs “in priority of Birth and Seniority of Age.” In case of the failure of male issue, the librarianship was to pass to James Logan, the younger, and his male heirs, then to the male heirs of Hannah Smith, Mary Norris, and Sarah Norris, each in turn and all according to the same principle as in the case of William’s heirs. If the right of succession should devolve on a minor, the trustees were to appoint a substitute until he came of age, unless “by the pregnancy of his parts” he should be judged capable of officiating sooner. In case no qualified Logan heir should be found, the trustees might appoint a suitable “Proficient in Literature” as librarian. Since most of the above provisions of the unfinished document were the same as those of the canceled instrument of 1745, certain additional clauses of the latter, relating to the qualifications of the librarian and the rules for borrowing books, are recited.4

Now, for the execution of Logan’s intention as expressed in the above instruments and in consideration of ten shillings paid by the parties of the second part, the parties of the first part convey to them and their heirs forever the piece of ground in Philadelphia beginning at a distance of 80 ft. north of the corner of Sixth and Walnut Streets, running northward along Sixth St. for 80 ft. for the full length thereof and containing in breadth 55 ft. from Sixth St., with all the buildings and appurtenances pertaining thereto; all the books mentioned in the catalogue of Logan’s library or added to it; and all rents mentioned in the last will and in the unfinished instrument of settlement and set forth verbatim hereinbefore—the library to be called The Loganian Library—to have and to hold for the benefit of the parties of the first and second parts (excepting Hannah Smith) and their survivors and heirs, in trust for the purpose of carrying out the intentions of the testator as expressed in the above instruments.

This indenture is to be recorded in the office for recording deeds and all the above documents are to be copied into a record book kept by the librarian or memorandum made of the locations of their official recordings. The parties agree that two-thirds of the trustees may make and alter rules for the library not inconsistent with the testator’s intent, and provision is made for the use of any increase in the rents from the Bucks County land and of unexpended funds from deposits forfeited by borrowers of books. To help determine the right of succession, the librarian is to keep a genealogical record of the Logan family. The legislature is besought to investigate and remedy any suspected breach of the trust. On the death of any trustee the survivors are to appoint his successor within thirty days and make legal conveyance to him; in the case of the death of one of Logan’s descendants in the group the successor is to be the descendant next of kin, if possible, with provision for the appointment of a temporary substitute in case the next of kin is a minor. The trustees agree that none of them will convey his title and interest to anyone so as to create a tenancy in common or otherwise sever the joint tenancy, without the consent of the other trustees. Signed: Willm. Logan, James Logan, John Smith, Hannah Smith, Isr. Pemberton, Will: Allen, Richard Peters, B. Franklin. Sealed and delivered in the presence of: Th Bond, Jams: Pemberton, Jn Reily.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9On Logan’s library see above, III, 390, 401–2, 456 n; and Edwin Wolf 2nd, “The Romance of James Logan’s Books,” 3 Wm. and Mary Quar., XIII (1956), 342–53.

1The heirs who were parties to the deed or mentioned in it were: his two sons William (1718–1776) and James (1728–1803); his surviving daughter Hannah (1720–1762) and her husband John Smith (1722–1771), who was born in Burlington, N.J., and a resident of Philadelphia, 1743–56; and Logan’s granddaughters Mary Norris (1740–1803) and Sarah Norris (1744–1769), the minor children of his deceased daughter Sarah (1715–1744) by her husband Isaac Norris, Jr. (1701–1766).

2Although this deed specifically stated that it was to be officially recorded, this was never done. The same parties executed a new deed of trust, March 25, 1760, which differs only in detail and in arrangement. The first leaf of the MS deed of 1754 is torn and parts of many lines on both its pages are missing, but their substance can be readily determined from the corresponding passages in the later instrument, which is printed in full in First Supplement to the Catalogue of Books belonging to the Loganian Library (Phila., 1867), pp. xi–xxiv.

3Israel Pemberton, Jr. (1715–1779) wealthy Quaker merchant; member of the Assembly from 1750 to 1756 when, as a leader of the strict Quakers he withdrew because of the war; one of the first managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital; active on behalf of Indian welfare; refused to take an oath of loyalty to the United States and was deported to Virginia, 1777. DAB; Theodore G. Thayer, Israel Pemberton, King of the Quakers (Phila., 1943). On William Allen and Richard Peters, see above, III, 296 n, and 187 n respectively.

4No one was to become librarian unless he had learned at least some of the books of Virgil and could translate the colloquies of Erasmus into English. Logan directed that the librarian or his deputy was to attend every Saturday from 3 to 7 P.M. in summer and “so long as one may see to read” in winter. All residents of Pennsylvania educated in reading and writing, especially in Latin, or who studied any of the mathematical sciences or medicine, and by the librarian’s favor any other British subject, might be admitted on Saturdays, “or on any other Day on which the Librarian may be prevailed on to attend,” with liberty of borrowing books—a folio volume for three weeks, a quarto for two, and an octavo for one week. Every borrower was to give his receipt to the librarian in a book kept for the purpose, “With a Proviso therein to be contained, not to abuse the Book borrowed or write therein Except it be in correcting Literal Errors,” and that he would keep it under cover and not carry it out of Philadelphia, and that he would return it on time in the same condition under penalty of double the sterling value of the book (or in case of a book forming part of a set, double the value of the set). The librarian might require a money deposit if he should “see any Ground for Suspicion.” He might, in his discretion or on orders of the trustees, allow a descendant of any branch of Logan’s family to borrow two books at a time and for double the period permitted to others.

Index Entries