1624 - 1695

Thomas Holme

Born in England, Holme attended Hawkshead Grammar School and served as a captain in the English Civil War under Oliver Cromwell. Following the war, he was sent to supervise the repair of Core Castle in Ireland, which suggests that he may have had prior engineering experience. In 1654, he was commissioned to help conduct the civil survey of County Kerry, Ireland, and he subsequently worked on the Down Survey of Ireland, possibly as a cartographer. Holme arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682, having been appointed surveyor general of the Province of Pennsylvania by William Penn and tasked with laying out a city along the Delaware River where ships could safely land. That same year, he created the Philadelphia Plan, which comprised a rectangular grid with a central public square and four quadrants, each containing a smaller public square. These five open spaces were to remain undeveloped as public parks to ensure health and prevent the spread of fires. Originally named for their respective quadrants, the four smaller squares are now known as Rittenhouse Square, Logan Square, Franklin Square, and Washington Square; City Hall was built on the larger central square. Holme completed a map of Philadelphia in 1683. He also created a detailed map showing the progress of settlement and land ownership in Pennsylvania, which was completed in 1687. He was a member of the first Assembly of Pennsylvania (1682) and of the Provincial Council (1683-1685). Beginning in 1686, he served as a provincial judge, and from 1694 to 1695, he was a commissioner of property. Holme died at Wellspring, his estate in Philadelphia, at the age of 71. He was buried in the Crispin Cemetery on the estate, part of which has since become Pennypack Park. In 1863, a monument was installed to mark his grave, which is located just within the park’s boundaries.