Ernest Portage Tomlin was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada on Sept. 29, 1889 the son of Edwin and Harriet Lavinia Tomlin (nee Statham). His father was a baker by trade. While he was born in Canada, the 1901 British census records Ernest and the Tomlin family were living in London at that time.
Ernest enrolled at The Bible College of Drake University located in Des Moines, Iowa in 1907. An "A" student taking difficult courses (advanced arithmetic, physics, botany, Hebrew history, Latin and more) Tomlin studied for more than two years. According to friends he became ill and returned to England to recuperate. Newspaper reports in the United States reported that it was his father who was ill and Tomlin traveled to London England to take care of him.
In the spring of 1912, with his father's health improved , young Tomlin decided to return to Drake University and finish his degree. He bought a third class ticket for passage on the Titanic. His ticket number was 364499.
At first there was hope that Tomlin was not on the Titanic. But that was quickly dispelled. He wrote two letters to friends in England, a Mr. Mander who was a close friend and lived in Birmingham, and a Mr. Cook. They were both convinced he was on the Titanic. Mander was quoted as saying: "I received a letter from Ernest last week stating he was sailing for America on April 10, from Southampton. We find that the Titanic was the only boat that left Southampton on that date and have every reason to believe that he was one of the passengers." Cook was quoted as saying. "I came over from England with Mr. Tomlin four years ago to study at Drake University. He attended school at Drake for more than two years and left for home last year on account of sickness. We have every reason to believe that he was a passenger on the Titanic."
The day after the sinking friends at Drake received letters, sent from Tomlin while in Southampton, that he was sailing on the Titanic. It was reported the "letters were buoyant with hope and told of his aspirations in the ministerial field after he finished his course at college."
Repeated requests were made to the White Star Line to determine if Tomlin actually sailed. Wireless messages listing the names of survivors were searched but he was not named. Finally word was received in a telegram to H. W. Warren, a Des Moines ticket agent that read: "Ernest Tomlin appears on the list of third class passengers of the White Star line as having sailed, but not on the list of rescued."
Then confirmation tragically came when his body was found floating near the scene of the tragedy by the ship Mackay Bennett on April 21, 1912. His body was the 50th recovered. He was buried at sea on the same day.
His body and possessions carried with him were described as such:
N0. 50. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 30. - HAIR, FAIR.
CLOTHING - Black coat; no vest, blue striped flannel shirt.
EFFECTS - Two pocket books; silver watch; pencil; papers, diary, fountain pen; comb; $87 in notes; £1 10s. in gold; and 2s. 9d.
THIRD CLASS TICKET No. 364424.
NAME - ERNEST POSTAGE TOMLIN.
A memorial service was held in Des Monies on Wednesday May 1, 1912 at the University Place Church for Tomlin.
Tomlin sent a postcard from the Titanic to his sister Lilly. The Tomlin family sold the postcard for 2,400 British pounds in 1992. Relatives of Tomlin still carry on the family bakery in Cornwall, England.