Royal Andrew Ferris, banker and railroad entrepreneur, was born to Martha J. (Crow or Crowe) and Justus W. Ferris on August 8, 1851, at Jefferson, Texas. After the family moved to Waxahachie in 1854, he was educated in the local public schools and later at Kentucky Military Institute, Farmdale, Kentucky. He was trained for the banking profession by his father-who, after a successful career as an attorney, a state district court judge, and a member of the state legislature, established the private banking firm of Ferris and Getzendaner at Waxahachie-Ferris entered his father's company as a clerk on July 1, 1870. Four years later he became a partner in the firm, which was renamed Getzendaner and Ferris. On December 13, 1882, he married Lula Brown in Waxahachie. She died some eight months later. In 1884 Ferris's private bank was reorganized as Citizens National Bank, and Ferris became a shareholder in the corporation. He and Jeremiah Reardon helped finance the Waxahachie Tap Railroad, which was chartered in 1875 and completed in 1879. The road gave Waxahachie access to Fort Worth and Houston by connecting with the Houston and Texas Central Railway near Ennis. Ferris also played a part in organizing the Waxahachie Real Estate and Building Association, and he served one term as a city alderman.
He moved to Dallas in March 1884 and became cashier of the Exchange Bank of Dallas, the firm where he spent the remainder of his career. Shortly after his arrival he purchased a controlling interest in the local street-railway system. He financed the modernization and electrification of the previously horse-drawn system and sold it, although he continued to serve as president of the Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railway Company for a number of years. When the Exchange Bank was reorganized as the Exchange National Bank in February 1887, Ferris was elected a vice president. He was a stockholder, director, and officer until his retirement. He became president in 1897, and continued in that position when the bank merged with American National Bank to form American Exchange National Bank of Dallas in 1905. Ferris retired from the bank's presidency in 1918 but remained chairman of the board of directors until 1920.
He married Mary A. Brown at Weatherford on October 3, 1894 (or 1895). He was a member of the Democratic party, the Knights of Pythias, and the Odd Fellows. He served as president of the Commercial Bank and Trust Company of Dallas and the Dallas Telephone Company, vice president of Hughes Brothers Manufacturing Company, and director of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Southwestern Life Insurance Company, Texas Power and Light Company, and Republic Insurance Company. He was also active in the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the State Fair of Texas, which he served as president for two terms and as a stockholder and director for a number of years. Ferris donated over $50,000 to Southern Methodist University and endowed a student loan fund at the University of Texas. He died on March 2, 1929. His funeral service was held at the First Presbyterian Church, and burial was in Grove Hill Cemetery, Dallas.