ONCE UPON a TIME
by Emory King
Clarissa Paslow, nee Carter, was the Creole, (Afro-English), wife of the great Irish patriot, Thomas Paslow.
Clarissa presided over their 3-storey home on the Haulover Creek, (where the Commercial Center next to the Swing Bridge, stands today), called Fort Wexford.
Thomas had determined to defend his home and the town from Spanish invasion, so in 1796 put a flat roof on his house and placed two six-pound cannons up there.
Clarissa, it is said, loved to entertain visitors on the roof, the highest point in Belize Town, or just sit up there and enjoy the peace and quiet.
She lived in exciting times. Her husband was active in the Public Meeting, the great debate over Evacuation in 1797, the Battle of St. George's Caye in 1798 and in defying British Army Superintendents for the next 22 years.
Naturally, her home was the scene of many conferences, parties, and arguments of great historic importance.
Clarisa was well educated, (for a woman of the 18th Century), and well liked by her contemporaries. She was the godmother to dozens of children and many girl babies were named Clarissa in her honour. When Thomas fell ill in 1820, more and more of his business affairs fell to Clarissa.
When he died in 1825 Clarissa was forced to go to work because Thomas had mortgaged everything he owned during his 5-year illness. She became the Assistant to Dr. Manfield Bowen, (whose descendents include Barry Bowen), and conducted many of his business transactions.
Clarissa died in 1838, well loved by the Settlement, and perhaps still longing for the peace and contentment of her Fort Wexford roof deck.