Pryor v. Thomas 361 S.W.2d 279 (1962) states:
Kentucky is a common law State. Our common law originated as an English institution evolved from local rules and customs which were in time recognized by the King's Court. That great mass of law has been accepted as part of the general law of almost every State of the Union.
By an Act of the Virgina General Assembly of 1776 it was declared "that the common law of England, all statutes or acts of parliament made in aid of the common law prior to the fourth year of the reign of King James I, and which are general, and not local to that kingdom * * * shall be the rule of decision, and shall be considered in full force, until the same shall be altered by the legislative power of this colony." Ray v. Sweeney, 14 Bush 1, 77 Ky. 1.
The fourth year of the reign of King James I was in the year 1607. On May 14, 1607, the first permanent English settlement in America was founded on Jamestown Island, in the James River, near the present city of Norfolk, Virginia. Apparently the General Assembly of Virginia considered this event to be an appropriate cutoff date.
*280 Section 233 of our Constitution provides:
"All laws which, on the first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, were in force in the state of Virginia, and which are of a general nature and not local to that state, and not repugnant to this constitution, nor to the laws which have been enacted by the general assembly of this Commonwealth, shall be in force within this state until they shall be altered or repealed by the general assembly."
It will be noted that the Act of the General Assembly of Virginia of 1776 accepted generally the common law as developed by the courts, but excluded statutes or acts made before 1607. However, KRS 447.040 has further limited the scope of our acceptance. It reads: "The decisions of the courts of Great Britain rendered since July 4, 1776, shall not be of binding authority in the courts of Kentucky."
It has long been accepted by the bench and bar that the common law prevails unless changed by our constitution or statutes.
Burke v. Hammonds, 586 SW 2d 307 - Ky: Court of Appeals 1979 states:
This jurisdiction recognizes the common law right of any person to informally change their name by public declaration.
Leadingham ex rel. Smith v. Smith, 56 SW 3d 420 - Ky: Court of Appeals 2001 states:
[Kentucky Revised Statutes] Chapter 401 is not intended to abrogate the common law, but merely to insure that a permanent record is made of the name change. Therefore, even a child, on his own initiative, may exercise the common law right.