July 6, 1879
On July 6, 2013, Pope Francis told the Catholic bishops and priests from around the world that it pained him to see clergy driving ‘flashy cars’, and told them to pick something more “humble”.
This observation by the Pope that clergy like “flashy” transportation is nothing new, on July 6, 1879 the local St. John’s newspapers were advertising “the sale of a light sulkey, suitable for an outport Clergyman.”
The sulkey is a lightweight two-wheeled, single-seat cart that was used as a form of rural transport in many parts of the world. The sulkey was the top of the line in transportation. It was not some old slow dray, not some old wagon, not some old cart, the sulkey was sleek and fast and as the advertisers put it in the day “suitable for outport clergymen and doctors.”
They are called “sulkies” because the driver prefers to be alone.
The clergyman’s penchant for the flashy is in short not a new phenomenon. Certainly the advertisers 134 years ago saw the potential for vanity in the clergymen.
The reality in Newfoundland was however that the sulkey might not have been the most practical for the ‘outport clergymen.’ With the poor state of the roads in much of outport Newfoundland the more robust option was the horse and cart.
The advertisement for the ‘light sulkey” appeared in the daily papers in St. John’s for most of the summer. It is not known if it sold!!
Note: There are two variations on the spelling of the word. Newfoundland papers refer to sulkey. American publications use sulky.