Herbert was educated at Merton College, Oxford, where he gained the Welsh Memorial Prize in 1901, and took the M..A. degree; and at the London Hospital, where he qualified in 1907. He then took the Diplomas of the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1912.
He became Assistant Professor Physiology at the University of New Orleans for a year, and held medical appointments in West Africa and South America, where he indulged a passion for scientific research and discovered several new zoological species. One of these was a new species of West African rodent, ‘Anomalurus imperater’, a type of which he presented, together with a number of other rare and interesting West African mammals, to the British Museum. Whilst in Columbia he continued his zoological research, and during the first few months of his stay in the Choco brought together a series of batrachians and reptiles which he also presented to the British Museum. A further important series of these animals was collected and presented by him in 1914, and in 1915 he discovered and presented a new limbless reptile (amphisboena spurreili) and a new snake (Herpetedryas Vicinus). The result of his work meant that the London Zoological Gardens was rarely without specimens sent by him, notably in the reptile and monkey houses, and in recognition of his work he was elected a Fellow of the Zoological Society and was awarded their Silver Medal. He was also the author of a number of scientific monographs, and wrote a book on social evolution, entitled “Modern Man and his Forerunners.” On his return from Colombia in 1915, Herbert was sent abroad by the Government on a secret mission, and in 1916-17 acted as Temporary Medical Officer at Obussi, South Ashanti. In 1917 he took a commission in the R.A.M.C., at the rank of Lieutenant, entering Egypt on 23rd November 1917, and was employed on the R.A.F. Medical Board. He was promoted to captain after a year’s service. Herbert died of pneumonia at No 19 General Hospital, Alexandia. He was the only son of Herbert and Harriet R Spurrell of West Norwood, London.