"mess about," v.t. (1917)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Jul 5 18:28:39 UTC 2008

Not strictly an antedating, but the cite suggests that the coarser version with the b-word (OED 1929), or even with the f-word (1975), was the norm in the British Army of the Great War:
1917 "Sapper" [Cyril McNeile] _No Man's Land_ (London: Hodder & Stoughton) 298: The men despise vacillation and chopping and changing. Being "messed about," they call it, only the word is not messed.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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