Green’s Dictionary of Slang

St Hugh’s bones n.

also Sir Hugh’s bones
[given that the trad. patron saints of shoemakers are St Crispin and St Crispinian, the link to sense 1 is not obvious; whether the Hugh in question was St Hugh (c.1140–1200) or Hugh of Lincoln (d.1255), supposedly murdered in a race libel against the city’s Jews, is unknown]

1. (also bones of St Hugh) shoemaker’s tools.

[UK]Dekker Shoemakers’ Holiday I iv: Maister, for my life yonders a brother of the Gentle Craft, if he beare not saint Hughes bones, I’ll forfeit my bones.
[UK]Rowley Shoo-maker, a Gentleman Act V: All our working Tooles are cald Saint Hugh’s bones.
[UK] ‘A Hymne to the Gentle Craft’ in Rump Poems and Songs (1662) ii 152: Crispin and he were nere of kin, / The gentle Craft have a noble Twin, / But he’d give Sir Hughs bones to save his skin.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 91: The gentle craft of S. Hughs bones.
[UK] ‘The Couragous English Boys’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 382: The Bones of St. Hugh they do now bid adieu, / As having a far greater work now to do.
[Ire]Pue’s Occurrences (Dublin) 24 Jan. 1/3: Many thousand Pairs of Shoes has been Lost even to Ready Money Customers [...] So very great is the insolence of these inferior Crispins, that St Hugh’s Bones lie quiet for Days.
[UK]London City Press 13 Oct. 3/4: St Hugh’s Bones was another sign of the gentle craft. St Hugh [...] on the point of his martyrdom [...] bequeathed his bones [...] to some shoemakers with whom he had worked.

2. dice.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Elbow shaker, a gamester, one who rattles Sir Hugh’s bones, i.e. the dice.
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII 100/1: [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 101: bones, dice: also called St. Hugh’s bones.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 91: Bones, to rattle the bones, to place at dice.