Henry Edmund Marshall, civil servant and amateur ornithologist, entered the civil service of the Cape Colony in February 1875 and until July the next year worked in the drawing-office of the Cape Government Railways in Port Elizabeth. He then became a clerk in the Customs Department in the same town. From March to May 1879 was on active service with Prince Alfred's Guard during a Xhosa uprising. In September 1880 he was promoted to examining officer in Customs, and in December 1885 was transferred to the statistical branch of the Customs Department in Cape Town. From October 1886 to May 1887 he acted as principal officer of customs in Griqualand East, and from July 1888 to March 1889 held a similar position in Griqualand West. Thereafter he returned to Griqualand East as principal officer of customs. He did special service on the border between Pondoland (the coastal region of the Transkei) and Natal during May to September 1894, and was thereafter stationed at Webster's Drift (in East Pondoland).
Marshall began collecting birds for the Port Elizabeth Museum in 1890. That year he presented a fine collection of bird skins from uMzimkhulu, on the border between Griqualand East and Natal. A second collection from the same place followed in 1893. In 1895 he donated carefully prepared birds from Pondoland and in 1898 the museum's curator, Alexander Marshall*, lauded him for his unflagging interest. He donated a single last bird collected in Pondoland in 1899. That same year he also presented the museum with the figure-head of a ship that had been wrecked in 1854.
By this time, however, Marshall no longer resided in Pondoland. His career had taken a new turn with his appointment as magistrate of Port Nolloth in May 1896. During 1897 he manned a second order meteorological station in the town and made daily observations for the Meteorological Commission of the Cape of Good Hope. He subsequently served as magistrate at Alexandria (June 1899), Stockenstrom (October 1900), Humansdorp (August 1904), Ceres (November 1908), and Middelburg, Cape Province (April 1912).