When Captain Frederick Mallet was charting and surveying the island of Trinidad following its capitulation to the British in 1797, he was told that the village had no name. Observing the women washing clothes in the river, he simply wrote on his survey chart: "Ladies River". Later, the settlers called the place after the washer-women the surveyor had seen, "Blanchisseuse" being the French for "washer-woman".
The difficult terrain meant there was little development or expansion, and no roads. The settlement was a clearing with thick forests and mountains behind and the sea in front.
There is now a road from Port of Spain (North Coast Road) and it is a beautiful drive to Blanchisseuse. Drivers will be well advised to drive carefully especially when the road is wet. Always keep to the left when approaching and going around the many sharp corners. Lookout for land slips along the way during the rainy season.
- Anthony, Michael (2001). Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Md., and London. ISBN 0-8108-3173-2.
There has to be added additional information about the time, before the British reached Trinidad in 1797. At Blanchisseuse existed the most northern settlement of an Arrawak tribe, even since before the Spaniards arrived in 1498 or again in 1515. Also there were two Spanish families living at the upper Rio, their estates called Buenos Aires and Buena Vista, next to the Arawak settlement. They had invited those Spaniards to live there, as protection against nearby attacks by Carib tribes, who were hostile towards the Arawaks. The Spaniards abandoned the place soon after the British arrival, when the British started to roundup any Spanish male from the age of 14 years up, to shoot them. They escaped to the Venezuelan mainland and later on to Spain, where they settled in Andalusia near Cadiz and in Sevilla. Later members of the family claimed land of their former ancestors, but due to lack of public documents (the entire village, including church and police station burned down several times) they were refused. The Arawaks also abandoned the area, after the Spanish had left, and the mostly French population of the lower village remained with their slaves.