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Penny Lane, the Liverpool street immortalized in the Beatles song of the same name, made headlines last week when it was questioned whether the street was named after 18th-century slave trader James Penny. Historians have now determined the street name is not related to the slave trader.

Rolling Stone reports that after speaking with local Liverpool historian Richard MacDonald“The earliest mention of the lane was from the 1840s, when it was listed as Pennies Lane. In maps going back to the 1700s, it was merely an unnamed country road. Meanwhile, James Penny died in 1799 — plus, he already had a street named after him: Arrad Street, named for his birthplace in Ulverston, Cumbria.

MacDonald, who along with a team of other historians looking into the slave trade connection for the past ten years, said they were unable to find one.

MacDonald said to Rolling Stone, “Penny Lane about that time would have been a fairly rural country lane, so that struck me. It would be very off that a lane in the middle of the country would be named after somebody in the same way that prestigious streets in the town center would.”

Rolling Stone notes there are a number of streets in Liverpool named after former slave traders, which helped add to the Penny Lane controversy.

There was a lot of media attention on the Penny Lane name origin when Liverpool’s Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham said in a statement following Penny Lane street signs being vandalized, “If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated. Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”

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Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.