John arrived in Virginia at the age of about 10. It is unlikely that John or his brother Phillip received any formal educational training (beyond grammar school) since there were virtually no schools in Virginia at that time. The entire immigrant population of Virgina at that time numbered less than 50,000.
The two boys may have lived with their Uncle Phillip if their mother was deceased. Colonial records show that John married Anne Goodrich of Rappahanock in that county on December 3, 1681. He subsequently took up residence in New Kent County, (later Orange and then Culpeper County) and appears in a variety of colonial records indicating that he was active in civil and military affairs, attaining the rank of Colonel in the Army of Virginia. His fortunes were no doubt improved in 1683 through the inheritance left to him by his Grandmother Elizabeth, and the inheritance of his father's estate in 1687. In addition he acquired substantial property rights as a dowery of his wife Anne which he later sold to his brother Philip. It is also recorded that he visited England on at least one occasion in 1692, as a member of the Colonial Council. In 1699 Col. John Lightfoot was a tax collector for the country between the James and York Rivers (Salisbury MSS), and in 1701 he voted as a Council member for the recall of Nicholson, a widely unpopular governor. At that time he also served as Commander in Chief of the militia of King and Queen County, Virginia. He died on 28 May 1707 in New Kent County. His place of burial is unknown.