Russell did not originate the seven times. It was promoted throughout the 1800’s prior to Russell by John Aquila Brown, William Miller, E. B. Elliott, Robert Seeley, Joseph Seiss and Barbour.
In 1823 John Aquila Brown published in
that the "seven times" of Daniel 4 were prophetic of 2520 years running from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in 604 B.C. to 1917 A.D. He did not equate this to the end of the Gentile Times.
In the 1830’s a farmer named William Miller explained that a number of prophecies were to conclude in 1843, and so came to the conclusion that Daniel 4 was also to end in 1843. To do so he claimed the seven times started when Manasseh was taken as a captive to Babylon in 677 B.C. This was to signify the ‘time of the end’, the destruction of Babylon and when the dead would be raised.
Apollos Hale and Sylvester Bliss corrected this date by removing the year zero that Miller had used in the calculation, promoting the time of the end to the year 1844.
In 1840 John Dowling predicted Miller’s prophecy would not come true in 1843. In
An Exposition of the Prophecies, Supposed by William Miller to Predict the Second Coming of Christ, in 1843
he wrote what is equally applicable to the Watchtower Society.
Mr. Miller is not the first expounder
of prophecy that has attempted dogmatically
to decide upon the very year of the coming of Christ
. I will not occupy these pages by relating the individual histories of the wise and positive interpreters of prophetic times, who have preceded Mr. Miller in fixing the year of the Judgment. Their
histories were all alike
. They succeeded as Mr. M. has, in awakening a degree of alarm in the bosoms of some
simple people, who forgot that Christ has said "of that day and hour knoweth no man"
the time drew on
the year passed by, and
the prophet and his doctrine were forgotten.
The reader but partially acquainted with
the history of the world
, and not aware of the manner in which Mr. M. continues to make his calculations all meet in the year 1843, thinks upon perusing the book that there are, to say the least, some very striking coincidences, and feels considerably staggered, if not convinced. …
Let the reader peruse this passage and the chapter (Daniel 4) from which it is taken, and then
imagine, if he can, by
what stretch of ingenuity
Mr. M. draws from it a proof of the coming of Christ to judgment in 1843.
… He then looks into his Bible chronology, and finds that in the year
one of the kings of Judah, named Manasseh, was carried a prisoner to Babylon. Here, then, says Mr. M., must begin this punishment of seven times.”
At Miller’s suggestion Samuel Snow calculated that the end would arrive on October 22. This was to correspond with the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month, the Day of Atonement for the year 1844. Rather than using the current Jewish calendar he used an older calendar invented by the Karaite Jews. Jehovah’s Witnesses still use the Karaite calendar in their calculations, including for the date of the memorial.
When 1844 proved to be a false prophecy it was reworked by Second Adventists, such as Barbour and later promoted by Russell. The start date was moved to 606 B.C. the end date was moved to 1914 A.D. This was expected to culminate in Armageddon. With the failure for the end to eventuate in 1914 most Adventist groups came to recognise that Daniel 4 was not intended to have a second prophetic fulfilment and stopped referring to 1914 as being of significance. (http://jwfacts.com/index_files/1914.htm)