English was elected a member of the board of supervisors of Contra Costa County in 1877 and served four years. He was elected State senator in 1882 and was named a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1884. He successfully contested as a Democrat the election of Samuel G. Hilborn to the Fifty-third Congress and took his seat April 4, 1894, serving until March 3, 1895. He was unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1894 to the Fifty-fourth Congress. After leaving Congress, he engaged in the real estate business in Oakland. In 1905, he moved to Sonoma County, California where he engaged in viticulture. He died in Santa Rosa, California in 1913 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California.