(1642–1710). Holt was the son of a serjeant at law, who enrolled him at Gray's Inn at the age of 10. After a riotous year at Oxford, he was called to the bar in 1663. He showed his independence and fearlessness in state trials by defending Pilkington and others in 1675 and the ‘popish lords’ in 1679. In 1686 he became recorder of London and was subsequently knighted and received the coif as king's serjeant, but resigned after refusing to condemn to death a soldier who deserted in peacetime. After the flight of James II he was returned to the 1689 Convention Parliament and in that year he was appointed chief justice of King's Bench, which office he filled for 21 years. His judgments were famous, especially in the case of the Aylesbury voters (1703–4). He also had an important influence on the development of commercial law.
From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: British History.