- Category : Travel-Explorer
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dedication 1
Scottish naval officer and explorer of West and Central Africa.
At thirteen he was apprenticed on board a vessel which traded between Liverpool and North America. After having made several voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, he was impressed for the navy, in which he soon rose to the rank of midshipman. During the Napoleonic Wars he saw a good deal of active service, and at the storming of Port Louis, Mauritius, in November 1810, he was first in the breach and hauled down the French flag.
In 1814 Clapperton went to Canada, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and to the command of a schooner on the Canadian lakes. In 1817, when the flotilla on the lakes was dismantled, he returned home on half-pay. In 1820 Clapperton removed to Edinburgh, where he made the acquaintance of Walter Oudney, who aroused his interest in African travel.
Walter Oudney was appointed by the British Lord Bathurst, then colonial secretary, to proceed to the empire of Bornu (now central Nigeria) as consul, accompanied by Hugh Clapperton.
The party eventually reached Kuka (now Kukawa in Nigeria) on 17 February 1823, having earlier become the first white men to see Lake Chad. Whilst at Kuka, Clapperton and Oudney parted company with their companion Dixon Denham to visit the Hausa states. However, only a few weeks later, Oudney died on the road to Kano. Undeterred, Clapperton continued his journey alone, the first European to make known from personal observation the Hausa states.
Immediately after his return to England, Clapperton was raised to the rank of commander, and sent out with another expedition to Africa, the sultan Bello of Sokoto having professed his eagerness to open up trade with the west coast. Clapperton came out on HMS Brazen, which was joining the West Africa Squadron for the suppression of the slave trade. He landed at Badagry in the Bight of Benin, and started overland for the Niger on 7 December 1825, having with him his servant Richard Lemon Lander, Captain Pearce, and Dr. Morrison, navy surgeon and naturalist. Before the month was out Pearce and Morrison were dead of fever. Clapperton continued his journey, and, passing through the Yoruba country, in January 1826 he crossed the Niger at Bussa, the spot where Mungo Park had died twenty years before. In July he arrived at Kano. From there he went to Sokoto, intending afterwards to go to Bornu.
The sultan, however, detained him, and being seized with dysentery he died near Sokoto on 13 April 1827.