BOLT, SIR JOHN, lord-chietjustice of the King's Bench, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Bolt, Kut., a bencher of Gray's Inn, and a gentleman of property in Oxfordshire. Sir John Molt was born at Theme in Oxfordshire, on the 30th of December 1642, and after spending some years at the free-achool of Abingdon was in his sixteenth year entered as a gentleman commoner at Oriel College, Oxford. His college life appears to have been unusually wild and licentious ; but like Ida predecessor in the King's Ruch (Sir Matthew Hale), he discarded his irregular habits, and became remarkable for diligence and application. In 1652, before he was ten years old, he had been entered upon the books of the Society of Gray's lull, and on the 27th of February 1663 ho was called to the bar, and rose rapidly into notice as a first-rate lawyer and successful advocate. Ile was employed in most of the state trials which the troubled times in which he lived produced, and was generally counsel on behalf of the accused. His opposition to the measures of the court brought upon him the veugeance of James IL, who procured his removal from the recordership of Loudon. Shortly after the accession of William Ill (April 1689) Sir John Holt was made lord-chief justice of the King's Bench, in which situation he continued during the remainder of his life, although the chancellorship was offered to him on the removal of Lord Somers in 1700. Sir John Holt in the discharge of the duties of his office evinced great resolution in opposing the encroachments as well of the crown as of the houses of parliament. His demeanour towards prisoners presented a noble contrast to the intemperance, brutality, and vulgar ribaldry which lied disgraced the criminal pro ceedings of former reigns, and he set an example of spirit and temper which has continued to distinguish and adorn the judicial bench of England.
It was the fortune of Sir John Holt to be placed more than once in a position to bring Into a striking point of view the personal intrepidity of his character, one instance of which, arising from the claims of privilege by the House of Commons, may be here mentioned.
It occurred in the famous ease of the Aylesbury burgesses, several of whom claimed damages against the returning officer who had refused to record their votes. The House of Commons resolved that the plaintiffs were guilty of a breach of privilege, and committed them to ; but they sued out writs of Habeas Corpus, and the chief justice was of opinion they were entitled to their discharge. Upon this the House of Commons issued warrants for the apprehension of the counsel who had argued for the burgesses, and sent the serjeant aterms to Sir John llolt to summon him to appear at the bar of tho house. The chief-justice bade him begone, upon which the house sent a second message by their speaker, attended by as many members as supported the measure. After the speaker had delivered his message, Sir John Bolt is reported to have said, "Go back to your chair, Mr. Speaker, within this five minutes, or you may depend upon it I will scud you to Nowgate. You speak of your authority ; but I will tell you I sit here as the interpreter of the laws, and a distributor of justice, and were the whole House of Commons in your belly, I would not stir one foot." The accuracy of this reply has been questioned, but it has been extensively stated, and from the spirited observations made by Sir John Holt whenever the due course of law or justice was attempted to he impeded, it is probable that his anger at the interference of the House of Commons would be shown by pretty strong language.
Sir John Holt died in March 1709-10, leaving behind him a repu tation for learning, honour, and integrity, which has never been surpassed even among the many eminent individuals who have succeeded him in his dignified office.