Roy was first settled in 1873, about 25 years after the founding of nearby Ogden. Known by various names over the years (Central City, Sandridge, the Basin, Lakeview), Roy didn't get its final name until after Roy C. Peebles, the child of a local school teacher and minister, died.

Roy was late in being settled because it was basically a dry, sandy area where raising crops wasn't going to be easy. The early pioneers finally dug a 16-mile canal to bring in irrigation water from the Weber River in 1882.

Growth in Roy was pretty limited until World War II happened. That's when places like the Navy Supply Depot, Defense Supply Depot and Hill Air Force Base were built. After that, the population started to grow quickly and soon outgrew the available town services and schools.

Roy is the hometown of Jim McMahon, quarterback with the Chicago Bears when they won Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots.