Born into a large Brethren family in Enfield, England, Tipson began his working life as an architect's clerk but went to Singapore in 1908. He devoted his life, thereafter, to working in God's service.
Within a couple of years, he travelled to China to master several dialects. Tipson was a talented linguist; his Pocket Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular is still referenced during the compilation of modern dictionaries. Ernest made sure that every word in the Bible was included in this dictionary. Another of his publications, a Complete Chinese Character Course, was mostly composed in Changi Prison during the war. At Changi, he occupied Cell 24, along with Shenton Thomas, the then Governor of Singapore.
His survival, says his son, also Ernest, was probably due to his tremendous sense of humour and the good company and support of son-in-law David. Liberated at last, Ernest Senior travelled to India to be reunited with his wife and son. "He was as thin as a stick!" remembers his son, Ernest Junior. "We fell into each others arms."
After the war, Ernest Tipson resumed his work in Singapore briefly, but soon returned to England. He died in Cornwall during a preaching visit to a local Gospel hall.
*''A Pocket Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular, Chinese-English.''
*''A Cantonese Syllabary-Index to Soothill’s Pocket Dictionary, incorporating all Cantonese colloquial characters and their meanings.''
*''Complete Chinese Character Course, etc.''