It happens. It really does.
Following is the most startling example of record error that I’ve discovered so far. I’ve transcribed the affidavit of Johanna Lanigan which was included in the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist Marriage Record book of 1855 – 1874, page 104.
St John’s S.S.
I, Johanna Lanigan of St John’s in the Island of Newfoundland married woman, do solemnly declare as follows;-
1. That my maiden name was Johanna O’Brien.
2. That on the 26th day of November AD 1860, I was married to Patrick Hurley in the Parish of St John the Baptist according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, by the Rev Jeremiah O’Donnell.
3. That the names of the witnesses to the celebration of the said marriage were Edward Hynes and Mary O’Brien.
4. That the Marriage Register of the aforementioned Parish contains a record of the said marriage which is inaccurate in the following particulars;- (1) the name of Patrick Hurley is entered in the record of the marriage as Patrick O’Brien, (2) the name of Edward Hynes is entered in the said record as Edward Hayes, and (3) my Christian name is entered in the said record as Jean.
5. That Mary O’Brien one of the witnesses to the celebration of the said marriage at present resides in Montreal, Canada.
6. That Edward Hynes the other witness is dead.
7. That my late husband Patrick Hurley died at St John’s on the Island aforesaid in the month of June AD 1898.
8. That I was married to my present husband Thomas Lannigan (sic) on the 18th of August AD 1904.
Declared before me at St John’s
aforesaid this 2nd day of
February AD 1906 – having
been first read over and
J G Conroy
S. J. P.
Johanna x Lanigan
Record # 160 is to be found on page 105, third from the top. The groom, Patrick Hurley, who is incorrectly entered as Patrick O’Brien, is shown as being from Harbour Grace; and Johanna O’Brien (incorrectly shown as Jean), was from Ferryland. Since the places of residence weren’t disputed I’m assuming they are correct.
Here is a link to the digitized records on the FamilySearch.org website. Page 104 is on image #101, and page 105 is on image #102
“Newfoundland Church Records, 1793-1945,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-91SL-GWC?cc=1939435&wc=M8JY-G68%3A241087701%2C241087702%2C241164701 : 22 May 2014), St. John’s > Catholic Basilica of Saint John the Baptist > Marriages with index 1855-1879 > image 1 of 212; Catholic Church and Church of England parishes, Newfoundland.