26 March 2002
ISAIAH (WILD) WRIGHT, by James Bray of Beechworth. Some staining to lower image and mount.
Wild was the most notorious of the sympathisers. He was a firebrand both in prison and in court - provoking fights with fellow prisoners and slanging magistrates.
He first became involved with Ned Kelly in 1871 when Ned was sentenced to three years hard labour for innocently receiving a horse Wild had stolen. On top of this, the arresting trooper gave Ned a brutal pistol-whipping and Wild was not even convicted of horse stealing; he was sentenced to only eighteen months for Illegal Use. The score was settled after Ned Kelly's release in 1874. Ned beat wild in a 20-round bare knuckle fight to become a local boxing champion. He also won total loyalty from "the wild man" who proved to be one of the Gang's most active and effective supporters.
Wild was arrested as a sympathiser on 3 January 1879 and not released until 22 April. He was the most vocal of the Crown prisoners, once snarling at a magistrate, "If I ever get out of this I'll make my name a terror to you!"
The present photograph has been reproduced only once (Jones, Ned: The Exhibition, p. 25). In a long parade of Gaol photos extending from Wild's teenage years into middle age, this portrait captures his character more effectively than any other. According to one north-easterner, Wild had, "the fiercest pair of eyes you'd ever see". This photograph which most truly lives up to that description. There is only one other known print of the photo - held by the Victoria Police Historical Unit. The present print, despite some staining, is arguably a better example.
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