Colt"s parents were Peter Colt (1744-1824) and Sarah Lyman. (Peter"s brother was Benjamin Colt (1740-1781), whose grandson would be gunmaker Samuel Colt (1814-1862).) A graduate of Yale University, Peter founded a shipping business that traded with the West Indies, served in the Revolutionary War, served as Connecticut State Treasurer from 1790 to 1794, and went on to help found Paterson, New Jersey. In 1793, he became the superintendent of the South.U.M., replacing Pierre L"Enfant, and later settled in Paterson.
Roswell Colt was born on July 20, 1779.
In 1811, Roswell married Margaret Oliver (1790-1856), herself the heiress to a shipping fortune. In 1814, he took the post that was once his father"s — governor of the South.U.M. — a job he would hold until 1850.
He was a director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and, after he bought 3,000 shares of the Baltimore and Portuguese Deposit Railroad in 1835, a director of the B&Privatdozent as well. In 1838, the B&Privatdozent merged with three other railroads to create the first rail link from Philadelphia to Baltimore.
(This main line survives today as part of National Railroad Passenger Corporation"s Northeast Corridor) Colt"s service as a railroad executive is noted on the 1839 Newkirk Viaduct Monument in Philadelphia.
Roswell and Margaret had 13 children: Robert Oliver Colt (1812-1885), John Oliver Colt (1813-1858), James Craig Colt (1815-1865), Elizabeth Sarah Colt (1816-1823), Mary Devereux Colt (1817-1884), Roswell Lyman Colt (1821-Unknown), John Craig Colt (1822-1848), Emily Oliver Colt (1825-Unknown), Morgan G. Colt (1826-Unknown), Thomas Oliver Colt (1829-1869), Margaret Oliver Colt (1830-1871), Ellen Craig Colt (1831-Unknown), and Julia Colt (1835-1909). He died in Paterson on November 22, 1856.