Crosses Paty, Patonce and Formy
By Hugh Stanford London, F.S.A., F.H.S.
Norfolk Herald Extraordinary
Coat of Arms No. 33&34, January & April 1958


The term cross patonce in the 13th century indicated that the ends of the cross terminated in three prongs somewhat like a paw, and patonce was perhaps derived from patte=paw. Confusingly at the same time there arose the similar term of cross paty which perhaps derived from the Old French patu, meaning the base of a cup ( the word itself derived from the latin patens meaning opening or spreading) used to describe a cross diverging at the ends but with a flat end. An alternative label for the latter type of cross is formy ie “shapely”. Because of the similarity of the words paty and patonce heraldists over the centuries have frequently conflated the two terms. This led to Oswald Barron’s suggestion that the term cross patonce be abandoned. Here Norfolk Herald elucidates the full history of the usage of these terms, and makes the counter suggestion that the usage of cross paty should be abandoned! The Editor would contend that rather than abandon any historic terminology we simply need to understand past confusion and take it into account when interpreting old texts.