A Sin and A Secret: William Logan and Hot Buttered Rum

Welcome back to another "A Sin and A Secret." Mix yourself a drink based on a colonial recipe and then curl with a completely true, completely salacious story. Enjoy a new #ASinAndASecret post every week. Read more in the series here.

In 1755, William Logan was one of two King’s officers given control of the Ruby for a whole month. The ship had just finished a voyage and was tied off in East London, England. In control of the ship, Logan took advantage to sell its muskets and pistols to one Alexander Bean. Logan had apparently also stolen gallons of rum – for sale and for himself.

Logan’s crimes were discovered, and he was sentenced to “transportation” – seven years of unpaid labor in the colonies. Until then, he was held at Newgate Prison.

Newgate Prison, Inner Court, 18th Century, Wellcome Library.

Logan’s wife (name unknown) devised a scheme for his escape. Donning two dresses, she visited Logan in prison. He put on one of her dresses. Logan was described as “of a very small Stature, and an effeminate Look.” He was so convincing as a woman “that the people of the gaol chuck’d him under the chin as he went out, and call’d him a pretty little girl.”

When Logan was discovered missing, his wife was threatened with transportation. Not wanting to go to America, she turned him over to the authorities.


Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, April 28, 1756, page 3.

In June of 1756, ninety-one convicts, including William Logan, were loaded onto the Lyon.The Lyon arrived in Annapolis, Maryland on August 30, 1756, and the convicts were sold into seven years of servitude.


Maryland Gazette, September 2, 1756, page 3.

William Logan’s servitude was purchased by Archibald Buchanan in Annapolis. Buchanan was a wig maker and barber. He employed Logan in this trade.

In 1762, Logan appeared in the court records with Mary Jones. She was the convict servant of William Brown (of the William Brown House here at Historic London Town and Gardens). Brown sued Jones for “having had two Bastard children.” Jones swore that her second child was fathered by “William Logan a convict servant man belonging to Andrew Buchanan.” Jones was ordered to pay a fine for both children and to serve an additional two years of servitude to make up for lost time. She was also ordered to pay an additional fine or to serve another year under William Brown.


Stay tuned as next week's story will focus on Mary Jones!

Logan ran away at least once during his servitude, but it must not have been long, as he was freed by 1763. Convict servants were generally sentenced to an additional ten days of labor for every day they are absent from their masters.


Maryland Gazette, September 22, 1757, page 4.

On January 3, 1765, William Logan was married at All Hallows Parish, the local Anglican church for London Town and the South River, to Mary Tool. It’s possible that this was the maiden name of Mary Jones, who was a widow before she came to America. Or she might have been a different person entirely.


Maryland Gazette, December 15, 1764, page 4.

The previous year William Logan opened a barber’s shop in Annapolis. He grew his business rapidly and expanded to other endeavors. In 1765, he opened a tavern. Later that year, a teacher named Samuel Bennet rented space in Logan’s tavern, “the Sign of the White Heart on the Dock,” to teach math and navigation. A couple weeks later, the merchant John Mitchell announced he would sell imported goods and enslaved people at William Logan’s house. Shortly thereafter, William Logan he advertised that he “will take in” politicians who were in town for the legislative session, providing “Good entertainment for Man and Horse, as usual.” As his business prospered, he also purchased additional tracts of land.

In the early years of the Revolutionary War, William Logan was not a prominent figure. He is largely absent from the historical record except for a single order given in March of 1779 asking the Auditor General to pay Mary Logan 25 pounds “for the Use of William Logan due him.” It could be that Logan was serving the Continental cause, and his pay was being given to Mary while he was away. Or perhaps she was just handling the ledgers on his behalf.

In 1780, things took a sharp downward turn for the Logan family. American or French soldiers operating in Annapolis so thoroughly damaged his warehouse and wharf that “the Governor & Council are of Opinion that the State is bound to make good the Damages arising since they were employed by them, and direct an Order to be drawn to the said William Logan for the sum of six thousand Pounds in full for the Damages.” With the economic strife of war, the currency of the new United States was severely depreciated, so even this tremendous sum may have been next to worthless.

Perhaps to raise extra money, William Logan began offering miracle medicines for sale in the Maryland Gazette in 1783. Logan’s “American Balsamic Ointment” was said to cure everything from gunshot wounds and tumors to sunburn and pimples. His advertisements were accompanied by quotes from prominent gentlemen across Maryland all testifying to the amazing properties of his concoction.

Even if Logan’s snake oil really was a miracle cure, it might not have been enough to save his family. In 1788, he appealed for help to the County Court, who called his creditors to meet. Advertisements were placed on his behalf by the Court, which stated his property would be sold at vendue to offset his debts, and demanding that all his debtors make immediate payment. The last reference to the Logan family came in April 7, 1791, when a tanner named John Adam Bayer advertised that he would run his business out of “the house formerly occupied by Mr. William Logan.”



Hot Buttered Rum


· 1 stick of butter (yes, a whole stick)

· ½ c light brown sugar

· 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

· 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

· 1 teaspoon ground cloves

· 1 teaspoon ground ginger

· A pinch of salt

· 2 ounces dark rum

· 6 ounces (¾ cup) hot water

To make the drink:

1. In a bowl combine butter, brown sugar, spices, and vanilla. Mix until smooth and all ingredients look well combined. This can be saved for later drinks if not all is used.

2. In heat proof glass add the rum and butter mixture.

3. Top with hot water and stir.

4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick for flair and enjoy.


Upcoming Colonial Cocktails Programs


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Thursday, August 27, 2020 6:30 – 7:30pm


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Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:30 – 7:30pm From punches to bounces, syllabubs to juleps, colonists imbibed a wide variety of alcoholic beverages. At Colonial Cocktails, you’ll get to make and enjoy two historical drinks and learn about colonial tavern culture. Participants must be 21+. For the safety of participants and staff, this event will be held outside with appropriate distancing, group sizes, and cleaning in accordance with CDC and local guidance. Members: $25 Non-Members: $30 (Become one today!) Pre-Registration Required Maximum of 20 attendees REGISTER HERE for Syllabub & Sangaree (August 27)


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