Poor William Smith must be squirming in his grave. After 250 years, his New Voyage to Guinea has been judged a fraud. Reviewing the reprint edition published in 1967, H.M. Feinberg writes that
the reprint publisher wasted its money, and the African history community is no more enlightened because of their effort. A fraud, however ancient, has been uncovered, and another old, “classic” description can now be struck from bibliographies of “valuable” works.
Feinberg gives a number of examples of how Smith plagiarized from Bosnian's New and Accurate Description of Guinea, published nearly forty years earlier. Each of the passages he quotes is evidently a rephrased version of a passage in Bosman. He makes no mention, however, of the many occasions when Smith has something new to say. Smith's personal observations on Conny's Castle, Dixcove, Sekondi, Komenda, Cape Coast, Elmina, Tantumquerry, Winneba and Accra are passed over in silence. In fact Feinberg himself has elsewhere cited Smith as an independent source on Elmina.
Probably Feinberg is most unfair to Smith by concentrating only on Smith's account of Gold Coast affairs. While this is admittedly Feinberg's area of expertise, it is precisely in areas of the coast to the windward of the Gold Coast that Smith is most valuable and least derivative. Here, too, some material is taken from Bosman -- for instance, on Cape Mount, Cape Mesurado and the “Quaqua Coast”. But almost everything else records Smith's own impressions of events which he himself witnessed. Among the most valuable passages are eight pages on the River Sierra Leone and a 48-page narrative of events at Sherbro, where the Royal African Company was losing its foothold on York Island.