The area of Upper Marlboro was first settled around 1695. It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, an ancestor of Winston Churchill. The land, which was to become the town, was part of several estates known as Grove Landing, Meadows, and Darnall's Chance, owned by the Brooke, Beall, and Darnall families, respectively. Darnall's Chance, also known as the Buck House, was built between 1694 and 1712. The home may have been the birthplace of Daniel Carroll, a signer of the US Constitution, and his brother, John Carroll, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in America.
In 1706, Marlborough Town was established as a port town by the Act for the Advancement of Trade and Erecting Ports and Towns. It was declared that the town would be constructed, "at the upper landing on the Western Branch, commonly called Colonel Belt's landing."
In 1744, a survey was approved and the town was given a new name, Upper Marlborough. Upper was added to distinguish the town from the community of Marlboro (now known as Lower Marlboro) in Calvert County.
Early in its life, when the western branch of the Patuxent River was still navigable, the town served as a port town for tobacco ships. The town blossomed into an agricultural, social, and political hot spot. Farms, many of which raised tobacco, dominated the surrounding areas.
In 1721, a courthouse was constructed in the town. One of the first laws passed at the courthouse was the Public School Act, which established a public school system. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many prominent merchants, lawyers, and politicians lived and worked in the area. Horse racing came to the town around the mid-18th century and attracted many people from the surrounding areas.
In the late 19th century, the town's name changed from Upper Marlborough to Upper Marlboro. The name change is linked to a postal clerk who felt the extra letters, “ugh,” didn’t properly fit on the rubber stamps being used at the time. By 1893, postal guides were referring to the town as Upper Marlboro and the name stuck, despite a proposed ballot to have it changed back in 1968. Since its initial conception the town has changed quite a bit. It initially boomed as a port town for tobacco trade, but the clearing and cultivation of land for farming would lead to erosion in the area. Over the years this erosion caused sedimentation, leading the Western Branch to become unnavigable. The fields of tobacco that once dominated the area have been converted over to residential developments, with the number of farms dwindling each year.
Today, the town is still the governing center of Prince George's County. Located within the town are the Prince George's County Courthouse, County Administration Building, and the Board of Education.
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Data last updated: Oct 18, 2019 11:41:am.
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