First mention: 1.6: Proof of the Pudding
First appearance: 2.2: How Kissing Was Discovered
Eliza Ward was Janet King and Abigail Ward's Great Aunt. She was fiercely opinionated and often outspoken. In her youth, Eliza spent time with her older cousin Winifred Ward, who often sent her for flowers. The reality of Eliza's past is blurred by her inconsistent stories that she told the King family.
The One True Loves
The name of Eliza's one true love may depend on what episode you happen to be watching. In How Kissing Was Discovered, Eliza tells Cecily and Alec that her one true love was Timothy Cotton.
In Hearth and Home, Eliza tells Felicity that her one true love was a Union Soldier, Lyle Prescott. According to this version of her story, Eliza met and fell in love with Prescott during a holiday in New York with her cousin Louise. He asked for her hand in marriage, but she promptly refused the proposal out of fear of losing her family.
In Otherwise Engaged, Eliza tells Felicity, "You may recall... I once kept a beau in waiting." This seemingly refers to Lyle Prescott, but Eliza informs Felicity that the beau is now called Romney Binscott.
Ward claimed that she lost Binscott after making him wait ten months for marriage. To make this matter even more complicated, Eliza announced in After the Ball is Over that her beau was called Owen Bryer. Bryer was a soldier who called on Winifred, but later turned his affections to Eliza.
He was sent to war and Winifred became a nurse in order to get closer to him. Bryer maintained his devotion toward Eliza and gave Winifred a silver keepsake chest to give to Eliza, containing many love letters.
He was killed in the war soon afterward, but Eliza would be unaware of his love for her. Winifred was too proud to admit her loss and kept the chest from her cousin for many years.
After the Ball
Eliza would regret her decision never to marry in later years and would encourage others to marry and avoid her bitter mistakes. When Walter Ward rejected Alec King as a suitor for his young daughter Janet, Eliza was quick to stand up against the strict reverend so that Alec could eventually marry Janet.
Many years later, Eliza visited King Farm in June 1903 from Halifax (2.2: How Kissing Was Discovered). Her biting criticism and constant demands soon weighed heavy on Alec and Felix, who considered her a nuisance.
Eliza would visit again in winter 1908 for an extended stay. Eliza's constant requests continued to put pressure on the King family. Eliza overheard Janet making critical comments toward her and attempted to leave King Farm on foot.
Consequently, the elder Ward fell through ice and nearly drowned. When Janet discovered Eliza's departure, she tracked her Great Aunt down and saved her from near death. The King family apologized for their rejection of Eliza and convinced her to stay at King farm (4.13: Hearth and Home).
In December 1911, Winifred Ward arrived at King farm to celebrate Eliza's 90th birthday. Winifred slipped into dementia and began to regret her deceitful action of keeping the truth of Owen Bryer's chest from Eliza.
Winifred admitted that Bryer meant the chest for Eliza before she died. In keeping a promise to Winifred, Eliza departed to England with Winifred's body for buriel. (7.10: After the Ball is Over)