Sir John Holt, born at Thame, Oxfordshire, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Holt of Gray's Inn. He was educated at Abingdon grammar school, Winchester College and later Oriel College, Oxford. In 1658 Holt left Oxford without his degree and entered himself at Gray's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1663. In 1689 he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's bench, an office he held for twenty two years, and in which he was renowned for his integrity and firmness. Holt lived at Redgrave Hall, Suffolk, and is buried in Redgrave Church, where a monument is erected to his memory.