John C. Rickard, a British archaeologist residing in Cambridge, spent several years at the Cape of Good Hope during which he investigated a wide variety of archaeological sites and collected many artefacts. He wrote up his observations in two papers, "Note on four series of palaeolithic implements from South Africa" and "Notes on some neolithic implements from South Africa", which were read before the Cambridgeshire Antiquarian Society by A.F. Griffith on 29 November 1880 and 14 March 1881 respectively. The papers were published in the society's Communications (Vol. 5, pp. 57-66 and 67-74) in 1881 and, with a paper by W.D. Gooch* that same year, presented the first general synthesis of southern African prehistory. Rickard recognised three main archaeological periods, namely the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, and Historic periods. The Palaeolithic, discussed in his first paper, he found represented at several sub-surface sites around Port Elizabeth and East London, and by numerous artefacts he collected at the junction of the Riet and Modder Rivers. The two later phases, discussed in his second paper, were represented mainly by surface sites, the Neolithic by early kitchen middens and finds on the Cape Flats, and the Historic phase by Bushman shelters and later kitchen middens. Ornamented pottery, rock paintings and beads appeared to be confined to the Historic phase.
One J.C. Rickard, not necessarily the same person, published three short papers in The Entomologist during the eighteen-nineties: "Observations of Plusia moneta" (a moth, 1895), "Fungi parasitic on butterflies" (1896), and "The androconia of Callidryas florella" (1897).