Random British Name Generator

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A random name generator is useful for anyone who needs, well, a list of random names! Uses include authors who want a realistic set of names they can put into fiction, roleplayers who want realistic names for their characters and programmers who want plausible looking names for test data.

You can choose from a database of current names, or the 1881 census if you want a historical feel. And you can select either male, female or mixed names. Some names, of course, are unisex and can show up in any list. The list defaults to 50 names, but you can go up to 200. Any more than that thrashes the server too much.

The British Surnames random name generator doesn't just pick names at random, it weights the selection according to the actual probability of finding that name in the population at large. So, for example, it's more likely to give you "John Smith" than "Edmund Sidebottom" even though the latter is a possible result. This makes it more realistic than many random name generators which simply pick randomly from a list and thus tend to overemphasise uncommon names.

Because it uses a weighted random selection it can occasionally give duplicates, especially when doing a large number of single-sex names. But this, too, is realistic - if you picked a large number of people at random from real life, there's a small but non-trivial probability that two (or more) of them will share the same name.

The names are based on databases of real forename and surname combinations, rather than picking them at random independently. This minimises the prospect of implausible combinations such as "Mohammed Cohen" which are more likely if the surname and forename are picked independently. On the other hand, a drawback of this approach is that it won't offer up any combination of less common names which don't exist in the database. This is more of an issue with the database of current names, as this is based on a statistical sample rather than including everyone in the country.

The 1881 names are taken from the census records themselves, but this can have the drawback that it also includes any typos made by the census takers or their later transcribers. So you need to be a little careful with using some of the less common names as they may, in fact, be erroneous.

The random name generator is based on names across the UK as a whole, and doesn't allow for regional differences. This is less of a problem for contemporary names, at least across most of England, but it won't give a particularly representative selection if you want a list of potentially Scottish or Welsh names. And for the 1881 census, that's more of a problem as names tended to be much more regionalised back then. If you need to focus on names with a particular local relevance, then at the moment the only way to do that is to check the one returned by the generator and weed out the ones you don't need. Given sufficient round tuits I may address this at some stage in the future, but it's unlikely to happen in the short term.

Random Names

Carl Armes
Alison Ballantine
Michael Barratt
Kevin Beirne
Stephen Bleakley
Darren Briscoe
Jennifer Burn
Julie Byrne
Sandra Carter
David Chubb
Pamela Clark
Annette Craig
Simeon Dolphin
William Eaves
Paul Gale
Alfred Gill
Wolf Gough
Paul Gowers
Robert Grantham
Paul Hamill
Teresa Hodson
Rebecca Inman
Eileen James
Paul Knight
Thomas Lawton
Steven Leverton
Monica Lui
Patricia Marsden
Stacey Marsh
Robert McCormack
Barry Morgan
Paul Nicklin
Michael Owen
Inga Parker
Keith Parmenter
David Parr
James Pitcairn
Thomas Sands
Stuart Savage
Mark Shelley
David Spare
Ian Thomas
Gary Thomason
Heather Thorne
Xianfeng Wang
Tracey Watling
Bryan Wight
Edward Williams
Robert Williams
Richard Woodfield