This dissertation asks about the consequences of economic and institutional change for the composition of the political elite in three papers. I do so using a core original dataset on the characteristics of Members of Parliament in Britain spanning almost four centuries compiled using web-scraping and natural language processing. The first paper considers the effects of the Industrial Revolution in Britain for electoral competition, and turnover in economic interests and families who hold power. Leveraging subnational variation over time within Britain and an exogenous instrument for the timing and location of industrial activity, I find that industrial activity did increase competition and lead to increased elite circulation. The second paper studies the consequences of the 16th and 17th century expansion of Atlantic trade in Britain for the composition of the political elite. Using detailed data on aggregate expansion in ocean trade, I compare constituencies more or less affected by this expansion by virtue of their connection to transportation networks and manufacturing centers. I find that places with more intense experience of commercial expansion saw more electoral competition and increased entry of commercial elites to politics, but no such turnover in the families that held political power. In the third paper, I investigate the extent to which political elites were able to persist across the revolutionary institutional changes of the 17th century in Britain that saw the Crown and Parliament vie for political supremacy. I code families based on their revealed preferences for the supremacy of one national institutional over the other, finding that institutional change did disrupt the ability of elites to persist when that change was not favorable to their faction. Beyond questions of political representation, this dissertation speaks to the large literature on institutional persistence and change by studying the micro-processes at work during key historical moments considered to have shifted the balance of either economic or political power.