Ernest Ford was born in Lymington, Hampshire, England in late 1879. He was the son of James Ford (1821-1880) and Rebecca Elizabeth Ireland (b. 1852). Both his parents hailed from Lymington and had married in 1879 in Poole, Dorset.
Ernest's father James, a licensed victualler, had a previous marriage to Mary Allison (b. 1826) and had three known children: Alfred (b. 1861), Harry (b. 1866) and Charles (b. 1869). He appears on the 1871 census living with his family and is running the "Ship Inn" in Lymington. Their next door neighbours were Henry Ireland, a carpenter journeyman, and his family. Henry's wife Elizabeth, née Ireland, may have been the sister of James' wife Mary or at least a close relative.
Following the death of James' wife Mary in 1877 he was married to Henry and Elizabeth's daughter Rebecca, producing one son, Ernest, in 1879. James Ford died in 1880.
Ernest first appears on the 1881 census when he and his freshly-widowed mother and step-brother Charles are living with his uncle Richard Ireland, a licensed victualler and operator of the "Fish and Kettle," located at 18 and 19 French Street, Southampton, his mother being described as a barmaid.
Ernest's mother was remarried in Southampton in 1890 to Alfred Thomas Barnard (b. 1867 in Essex), a mariner. By the time of the 1891 census Ernest, his mother and stepfather are living at 6 Albert Place, Lymington. Also present is his sister Florence (b. 1889 in Southampton) but it is unknown if Alfred Barnard was her father.
Ernest appears on the 1901 census living with his maternal aunt Alice Mary Waters and grandmother Elizabeth Ireland, and extended family, at 100 Brintons Road, St Mary, Southampton and he was by this time described as a grocer's warehouseman. Listed at the same address at the time of the 1911 census he was by now described as a ship's steward and unmarried.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Ernest gave his address as 100 Brintons Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Ford died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His mother remained in Southampton, later living at 115 Avenue Road. She died on 12 March 1928.