The office trained women clerks in copying legal documents. Legal copying required skill and accuracy, and was a trade appropriate for women as it was seen as ‘lighter’; they could sit, rather than stand. Good handwriting was required, seen as a skill appropriate for women.
Born in London in 1829, Maria Rye was the eldest of the nine children of Edward Rye, a solicitor, and Maria Tuppen. Rye became concerned with the lack of opportunities of women’s employment outside of teaching. In 1859, she opened a law stationer’s office at 12 Portugal Street, Lincoln’s Inn, in order to give employment opportunities to middle-class girls.
Rye also helped to establish the Victoria Press and the employment bureau and telegraph school in Great Coram Street.