E. Marlborough supervisor: spelling counts

Asks whether Marlboro Woods Lane should be renamed to fix spelling

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

At least one East Marlborough supervisor says he feels that shorter is not sweeter and that the township should consider renaming Marlboro Woods Lane to match the township's spelling.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — What’s a few letters between friends?

Enough that a township supervisor is asking whether Marlboro Woods Lane should be renamed to match the spelling of the township — Marlborough.

The issue came up during Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting — but it was unclear whether the name and the shorter spelling, favored by a famous brand of cigarettes, was causing issues for first responders, or merely an issue of aesthetics.

Supervisor Robert Weer brought up the issue.

“I just think we should be consistent,” he said.

Marlboro Woods Lane is a cul-de-sac located on Marlborough Road, near Doe Run Road. The road has four homes on it — all of which would need to undergo changes in addresses, were the township to decide to change the name of the spelling from Marlboro to Marlborough.

Weer’s colleagues seemed less convinced that any action needed to be taken. Supervisors chair Cuyler Walker asked if there appeared to be any issues causing confusion with first responders — but apparently, the two spellings appear in a lot of emergency databases — even when the proper name, as is the case with Marlborough and Marlborough Spring, roads should be used and hasn’t been linked to responders getting lost or delayed.

Walker expressed concern that the residents would need to change everything from billing addresses to drivers licenses were the township to make a change, and wondered whether the benefit to the township in terms of consistency would be outweighed by the inconvenience for the residents.

“If everyone is able to function then there doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Walker said. “If emergency services are having issues, then it’s a problem.”

Supervisor Eddie Caudill jokingly suggested that it was possible that the road was actually named after the cigarette, not the township. But turning more serious, he also seemed to suggest he felt that forcing a change would be a lot of trouble for the residents without much benefit to the township.

As the current township was formed by the Pennsylvania colonial legislature splitting the former Marlborough Township into two townships in 1729, today’s East and West Marlborough, the spelling of the township’s name has never been in question, even if at times, the origin is.

The original source of the name Marlborough is either named after a place, Marlborough, Wiltshire, in the United Kingdom — as was very common throughout southeast Pennsylvania, or other historical sources suggest, it was named in honor of the first Duke of Marlborough — a direct ancestor of Winston Churchill.

Although the history is fuzzy — Chester County was one of three counties formed in 1682 under William Penn’s land grant from King Charles II — when the original Marlborough Township was formed is less clear. John Churchill — the first Duke of Marlborough — was already a member of the English peerage at that point. Churchill’s father remained loyal to Charles I, and suffered for it during the reign of Oliver Cromwell. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the elder Churchill was elevated to the peerage, followed by his son.

Timing, though, remains the question on the origin of the township’s name. John Churchill was Earl of Marlborough as early as 1689, but only became Duke after a much celebrated military victory in France in 1704. This is where the argument that Marlborough was named in celebration of that victory seems to be rooted.

The cigarette was launched by London-based Phillip Morris Tobacco in 1924, originally as a filtered cigarette for women. A market failure, the brand was relaunched in the 1950s as the first concerns about lung cancer and cigarettes made a filtered cigarette more attractive to consumers.

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  1. Rob Bowen says:

    As a former resident of Marlboro Woods Lane, I was delighted to see the article and the photo of Mr. Scali’s house, where my family and I resided for a few years beginning in 1998. It is a wonderful location and was a great place to raise children. The photo was taken from the precise spot where my 3 soms would wait for the school bus each morning. (Hi Mike and Jaymie!) Regardless of nomenclature for the lane/cul-de-sac, reading the article reminded me of what a great community East Marlborough Township is in which to live!

  2. Jaymie Lacombe says:

    I live on Marlboro Woods Ln. and was suprised to hear that Mr. Weer is suggesting a name change. Of course this would be inconvenient to the residents, and what would the benefit be? Surely we have more important issues in E. Marlborough Twp. Perhaps Mr. Weer can address the deer population…

  3. Carol says:

    Funny – at the other end of the road in Pocopson Township, we actually do spell the same road Marlboro. I also use the line, ‘You know, like the cigarettes’. It works!

  4. Michael Scali says:

    I was surprised to see my street the subject of an article, and even more surprised to see my home pictured. My wife and I have always wondered why the street was spelled differently than the township and neighboring roads. Let me offer the following comments as the board of supervisors tackles this issue, which I wasn’t aware existed: (i) I am not the best speller, and “Marlborough” will be infinitely more difficult for me to spell than “Marlboro”; (ii) my kids just learned to spell “Marlboro”, and they have enough homework and projects as it is already; and (iii) it has always been easy to reference the spelling of my street by saying, “You know, like the cigarettes”. To this end, perhaps if we are renaming the street, let us consider “Winston Woods Lane”, “Benson and Hedges Woods Lane”, or “Pall Mall Woods Lane”. I think “Lucky Strike Woods Lane” would sound too similar to a bowling alley, and may cause more traffic in our little corner of heaven. Nevertheless, all of these names will be easier to spell than “Marlborough” and will enable me to keep saying, “You know, like the cigarettes” when giving out my address. Lastly, while I do not want to incite more unrest in the Township over this issue, I think the “elephant in the room” is: “Is my cul-de-sac really a “lane”?

    • Mike McGann says:

      Insightful — and delightful — response. Thanks for the comments, i think they might just rise to the level of the story’s subject matter. I wouldn’t lose too much sleep on the issue, based on the response of most of the supervisors to the subject.
      But now that you’ve mentioned the “lane” issue…
      Nah. Thanks for commenting.

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