John Holt was born in Hanover County, Virginia in 1726 his parents were David and Margaret (Dibnall) Holt. He married Elizabeth Hunter the daughter of an associate and had at least two children; Elizabeth born on April 19, 1746 and John born in July of 1748.
For business purposes Holt built a 'new store' in Williamsburg on Duke of Gloucester Street in about 1745. He later sold the store in 1754 to William Waters who owned the store adjacent to his. Six years later Waters sold it to Holt's younger brother William.
He was elected mayor of Williamsburg on November 30, 1752 and served for one term from 1753 to 1754. After his term as mayor he moved to New York City. Shortly thereafter, he became postmaster of New Haven, Connecticut.
On January 1, 1755, James Parker and John Holt published the first newspaper in Connecticut called The Connecticut Gazette.
In 1760, he moved back to New York City and was associated with the newspaper, The New York Gazette. He died in New York City in 1784 and was buried in the church yard of St. Paul's Chapel where his grave is still visible.
His son John Hunter Holt was a newspaper publisher in Virginia.