Ernest John Farenden was born in Emsworth, Hampshire, England in 1890 and his birth was registered in the September quarter of that year. He was the son of William Farenden (b. 1851) and Elizabeth Louisa Hammond (b. 1854); his mother and father, of Emsworth and Portsmouth respectively had married in Portsmouth in late-1876.

On the 1891 census Ernest is listed as living at 321 Nile Street, Warblington, Emsworth. His father is described as a baker. Also present are his siblings: Elizabeth (b. 1880), Frances (b. 1882) and George Edward (b. 1884) and his maternal aunt Frances Hammond (b. 1859). Two children, William (b. 1878) and Frank Albert (b. 1889) died prior to the census.

Ernest's mother Elizabeth died in 1900 aged 46 and the family appear on the 1901 census living at 23 South Street in Emsworth, his aunt Frances still resident with them. Ernest's father and his aunt were married in Portsmouth in mid-1901 but would have no children. They appear together to have run their own bakery and on the 1911 census are still living at 23 South Street in Emsworth, with William Farenden being described as a breadmaker and his wife as an assistant in the business. Ernest is not present on the 1911 census, perhaps at sea.

Ernest, as well as his brother George, followed in his father's footsteps and became a baker.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 23 South Street, Emsworth, Hampshire. His last ship had been the Olympic. As confectioner he received monthly wages of £8.

After the ship collided with the iceberg, Chief Baker Joughin ordered him and the 12 other bakers to get provisions to the lifeboats. They took all spare breads from the larder and trooped to the Boat Deck, with each of them carrying 4 loaves of bread.

Farenden died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.