Ralph G.L. (sometimes Ralph G.S.) Tottenham, mining engineer, lived in Johannesburg in 1896 and in February that year set out his views on the extension of the Main Reef west of the farm Witpoortje before the Geological Society of South Africa. His observations, presented as critical comments on an important paper by David Draper* on this topic, were published in the society's Transactions (1897, Vol. 2, pp. 18-21). Tottenham differed from Draper on several points relating to the complex stratigraphy of the Witwatersrand Supergroup, and particularly on the position of the Main Reef west of Witpoortje, which he based on his own observations. The importance of the topic is indicated by the fact that critical comments on Draper's paper were also delivered by A.R. Sawyer*, C. Wilson-Moore*, Franklin White*, M.E. Frames*, J. Kuntz* and H.T. Rait.
Tottenham was listed as a member of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1897, but no longer in 1899. However, he may have remained on the Witwatersrand for some time. In 1899 he was an associate of the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa, and in 1903, after this society had been re-activated as the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa following the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), he was still listed as an associate. In 1905 he published a paper on "Denudation and valley formation in South Africa" in the Mining Journal (London; Vol. 78, pp. 300-301).
During 1907-1909 Tottenham prospected at Kaapsche Hoop (now Kaapsehoop) in the eastern Transvaal, had several claims, and requested permission to be in possession of gold.