R. Stapleton appears to have been a resident of Cape Town between 1846 and 1852. On 29 July 1846 he advertised a lecture on the oxyhydrogen microscope in the South African Commercial Advertiser, to be presented under the auspices of the Institute for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Admission would cost one shilling. The instrument in question was a projection microscope using as a light source a small piece of limestone heated to a very high temperature by means of an oxyhydrogen flame. [Oxyhydrogen is a mixture of two volumes hydrogen and one volume oxygen, which burns to form water without any gas left over]. The light source was the brightest that could be produced at the time and thus allowed the use of high magnification. Nine years earlier such an instrument had been demonstrated in Cape Town by L. Powell*.
On 28 August 1852 Stapleton advertised a course of three lectures on astronomy, to be presented on 2, 9 and 16 September. Admission to the course would cost four shillings. The first two lectures dealt mainly with the planets and their satelites, while in the third he described comets, the stars and nebulae.
He probably was either Ryland Stapleton (1817-1867), an accountant who lived in Rondebosch in 1857 (Cape of Good Hope almanac and annual register for 1857), or R(obert?) J. Stapleton, journalist, lithographer, poet and artist, of the "Repository for natural curiosities" at the corner of Hout and Burg Streets (South African almanac and directory, 1829).