E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A junto or council of intriguers. One of the Ministries of Charles II. was called a cabal (1670), because the initial letters of its members formed this acrostic: Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale. This accident may have popularised the word, but, without doubt, we borrowed it from the French cabale, an
intriguing faction, and Hebrew cabala, secret knowledge. A junto is merely an assembly; Spanish, junta, a council. (See NOTARICA; TAMMANY RING.)
In dark cabals and mighty juntos met.
These ministers were emphatically called the Cabal, and they soon made the appellation so infamous that it has never since . been used except as a term of reproach.Macaulay: England, vol. i. chap. ii. p. 165.