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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Tables, the Four
During the fierce contest in Scotland between the adherents of the Church of England and the Presbyterians, several outbreaks occurred. On November 15, 1637, there was a meeting of the Privy Council, and large numbers of Presbyterians assembled at the capital. In order to prevent any tumultuous commotion, the nobles were requested to use their influence to induce their friends to return to their homes. This was consented to on condition that a sufficient number should remain to look after their interests. It was arranged that as many of the nobility as pleased, two gentlemen from every county, one minister from every presbytery, and one burgess from every burgh, should form a general commission, representing the whole body of the Presbyterians. Still more to concentrate their efforts, a smaller number was selected, who should reside at Edinburgh, watch the progress of events, and be ready to communicate with the whole body on any emergency. This smaller committee was composed of sixteen persons- four noblemen: four gentlemen, four ministers, and four burgesses; ands from the circumstance of their sitting in four separate rooms in the parliament house, they were designated The Four Tables. A member from each of these constituted a chief table of last resort, making a supreme council of four members. See Hetherington, Hist. of Church of Scotland, 1:291.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tables, the Four'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/tables-the-four.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.