As a Quaker, Eliza O enjoyed a more equal standing with the men in her own community than other mid-Victorian women. From the outset Quaker women were allowed to speak in worship meetings, and their opinions held weight. They were included as witnesses on Society of Friends birth records, and were allowed to publish and to travel alone.
Of Somerset farming stock, Eliza chose not to marry and instead moved 130 miles away to London to be a housekeeper. By the age of 39 she was living in Nottingham, working as a housekeeper to a widowed grocer. She later was housekeeper to that grocer’s son when he struck out on his own, moving 20 miles closer to home.
On the death of her mother, who had been running the family farm since being widowed, Eliza travelled home to Somerset to take on the role of farmer. She was helped by several widowed and unmarried sisters, and ran the farm as a female concern until age eventually caught up with her and it was passed to a younger male relative.
In her later years, the money she had accrued through her life supported her as an annuitant, as she had not had to surrender her earnings to a husband. She lived comfortably on her own means with her sisters, and then with a niece, until dying at the grand old age of 96. She left a considerable amount of money to her nephews.
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