Born in Galashiels, Clapperton began his studies in 1896 at Galashiels Mechanics Institute where he won a scholarship to study at Glasgow School of Art. He then attended the City and Guilds Institute in London, followed by the Royal Academy Schools from 1904-5, where he studied under the renowned Sir William Goscombe John. Whilst there Clapperton won a travel scholarship which allowed him to visit Paris and Rome. He returned to London in 1906 and set up a studio. Clapperton received many commissions during his lifetime including: a large statue for the Mitchell Library, Glasgow; Robert the Bruce, who stands at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, and numerous War memorials. His last major bust was that of John Buchan, in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.