Eugene Marais was of Dutch and French Huguenot descent.
Eugene Marais was born on January 9, 1871, in Pretoria, South Africa. He was the thirteenth child of Catharina and Jan Nielen Marais who once worked as a Government secretary. Trouble struck when Eugène's father was found to be involved in corruption and gross irregularities. He was eventually discharged and fired from his duties in 1867.